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A combination of producers of any product joined together to control its production, sale, and price, so as to obtain a monopoly and restrict competition in any particular industry or commodity. Cartels exist primarily in Europe, being illegal in the United States under antitrust laws. Also, an association by agreement of companies or sections of companies having common interests, designed to prevent extreme or unfair competition and allocate markets, and to promote the interchange of knowledge resulting from scientific and technical research, exchange of patent rights, and standardization of products.

In war, an agreement between two hostile powers for the delivery of prisoners or deserters, or authorizing certain nonhostile intercourse between each other that would otherwise be prevented by the state of war, for example, agreements between enemies for intercommunication by post, telegraph, telephone, or railway.

Although illegal in the United States, foreign cartels influence prices within the United States on imported and smuggled goods that they control. The United States has sued the De Beers diamond cartel several times, and works to stop the flow of illegal narcotics, whose production and distribution are largely controlled by drug cartels.