Atlanta might be the capital, and DFW where business of business happens – but New Orleans is the blood and loins of the CAS. The gateway port for all goods to or from Central/South America, the Mississippi, or trucking out across the CAS – be they legal or illicit. The CAS' dirty little secret, their city of vice and sins. Drugs, BTL's and alcohol fill the streets year round, reaching a staggering peak during Mardi Gras and Carnival. It's a place of fantastic crime, the Mafia's last great stronghold on the Gulf Coast and home of many a merciless voodoo gang. A city of opportunity for smugglers and shadowrunners they employ, with the deltas just as much a haven for smugglers now as it has been for the past centuries. The voodoo traditions of the area and well established black market for those goods having made it the Talismonger capital of the western hemisphere. Any magical material, from dragon talon clippings to thousand year old grave dust, can be had for a price.
Welcome to the Big Easy.
New Orleans is one of the few major cities you'll find no skyrakers, no arcologies, no megacorp headquarters. Only the rare local branch offices of a few interested parties exist in New Orleans. A few petrochemical and biotech firms have set up shop, but the money that flows through this city is one of vice, magic and crime, not corporate board meetings.
Gambling is still only legal on the waters of New Orleans (not on the land). So the islands, piers and waters off the city are dotted with Casinos and “floating palaces” - casinos built on old and new riverboats that anchor off shore or cruise the river. Prominent ones include “The Dragons' Lair” (owned by the esteemed Dunkelzahn), the “Belle Fortune”, “Golden Paradise” and “Bourbon Palace”.
Also increasing in popularity (with the locals ignoring it's Aztlan roots) are blood sports. Illegal pit fight arenas are rumored to exist in many of the larger casinos as entertainment for the wealthier and more jaded customers.
The French Quarter is home to numerous and seemingly endless bars and nightclubs. After dark, it's one large open-air bar for tourists. One of the few areas to receive patrols from New Orleans Police – though this rarely disrupts business of business so long as one isn't causing a fuss.
Prostitution is semi-legal inside the city, regulated in theory but rarely enforced. Bordellos, 'massage parlors', 'hospitality suites' and escort services are numerous across the city. Most providing far more exotic and illegal services then actually allowed, at a healthy profit. The Mafia controls almost all the legal prostitution establishments in Orleans, but the Yakuza have begun pressing in. An independent Oyabun is making strong moves to establish bunraku in the city, but the Belle Du Morte – Don Miriam, leader of the New Orleans Mafia, is burning them back out as soon as they set up a store front.
Likewise, drugs and BTL's are huge business in the city of sin. New Orleans is laced with chip dens, mainly controlled by the Mafia families. There are still a number of low-rung independent pushers and operators in the city who keep a low profile. But the drug dens, from opium to new tailored chemicals like Brown, are owned by the krewes – the voodoo gangs.
Magic in New Orleans is madness itself. Beyond the well-entrenched voudoun traditions within the city that picked up significantly with the Awakening, two additional markets have arisen from New Orleans unique cultural position. Talismonging and magical vice.
Talismongering ranges from very legal goods, of which there is a significant market – to highly illegal magical materials. Either items that are illegal in a few restrictive countries or considered distasteful (dragon talon clippings, endangered awakened species) to those that are banned but highly desireable (human remains). The lower portion of the French Quarter on the river is a vast open air bazaar of magical items and materials – the more illegal are farther down the back alleys. But for the greatest selection of talisman, the Market of Hollow Dreams can't be beat. Smuggling of such items is largely independent – the legal market is so vast its not been profitable for the Mafia to seize control of it. The Voudoun krewes and posse's hold a strong share.
Magical vice is a much more recent development, and one of the few the Mafia has remained purely hands-off. Even the marginally more enlightened mob of New Orleans still has mistrusts magic and wants nothing to do with it – especially the voudoun of the Zobop gang and Red Sects. They run rackets throughout the city – pleasure spells, secret rites, summoning spirits to possess a person for thrills. Anything can be bought for a price in the city.
While New Orleans maybe one of the most permissive cities in the Americas, there is always people with creds to throw around for that exact thing they desire. This in turn creates a huge demand for shadowrunners, crime rings and fixers to supply. The more people come to the city for fun and games, the more supply increases to match. Smuggling is thus enormous business for New Orleans, for every illicit and illegal item possible. Besides the classic three – prostitution, drugs and gambling, there is an extensive trade in people. Though few Shadowrunners partake, there is an extensive trade in both the willing and unwilling for the arena pits, sex trade, blood magic, organ legging, and for special requests.
While crime rates in New Orleans is high, most of the violent crime in the city is either smuggling related or against tourists. New Orleans is also rare in terms of having a local (and utterly corrupt) police service rather then contracting through one of the security corps such as Lone Star or Knight Errant.
The Mafia has a iron grip on much smuggling and most illicit activities in the city proper. The exceptions are drugs and magical vice (both run and controlled by the voodoo krewes). Few locals are willing to openly work against Belle Du Morte to shift that control, but the Don may eventually make too many enemies. The Mafia's steely control means there has been little competition in the city to lower prices – only the recent Yakuza activity in prostitution has posed any threat.
Arms smuggling through the city is another highly profitable enterprise a lot of independents are involved in. Extensive demand exists through out the region right now - Yukatan rebels in Aztlan, the pirates of the Caribbean league and good old South American drug cartels. Attempts by Aztech and Amazonia (respectively) to shut down the smuggling have failed. The harder the corp cracks down, the more profitable it gets, the more runners willing to take the gamble.
Organ legging (while profitable) is in low demand in the city itself. Most organs harvested are being moved out of the city by truck, air or port to other markets for sale. The Mafia has refused to dirty it's hands with this business – leaving the market open to independents and the krewes. Transporting cyber and bioware is far more profitable, as most runner-grade 'ware is highly illegal in the CAS.