Despite considerable state practice concerning the criminalization of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), international legal doctrine has so far paid little attention to this special type of non-state actor. Paradoxically, by making TCOs a subject of our attention, we would recognize them as relevant actors on the global plane, albeit in a negative sense and confer a sense of international legal personality. Indeed, the question is whether some kind of legal status has been conferred upon these outlaws. Against this background, the present article starts with discussing the concept of TCOs which has been partially incorporated into the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime of 2000. Moreover, a short look into the history of international law shows, that these entities have gradually become more and more targeted in the general context of the fight against organized crime, in particular, ,,the war on drugs“. Of course, there is no international norm stipulating any immediate duty or right of TCOs which would allow such deduction. Even international criminal law remains silent on them, although implicitly recognizing their existence for establishing the responsibility of certain individuals. However, as it seems possible to argue that TCOs may become party to a non-international armed conflict, they may transform their denied official recognition into a legal status to large extend independent from the will of governments. Thus, international humanitarian law – IHL – takes into consideration that they have grown to entities which openly compete with states for markets, territory, power and people. However, even outside – IHL – their suppression is subject to certain limits imposed by the rule of law and international human rights standards. Hence TCOs are no outlaws in international law.