One of the main power groups in the Cularin system in the time leading up to the creation of the Empire, the Metatheran Cartel was a trade organization similar to the Trade Federation. It was formed when two member species of the Trade Federation, the Caarites and the Filordi, split off during the blockade of Naboo (31 BBY), fearing the consequences of the failure of that operation. The Caarites were the instigators of this split.
The Metatheran Cartel chose the Cularin system as the starting place to build up their own power base, opposing the Trade Federation and inviting the Sullustans and other species to operate in Cularin. The Trade Federation was busy with the Naboo blockade, but hired pirates to harass Cartel shipping. This conflict was known locally as the Trade Wars. When word spread of the Federation's loss at the Battle of Naboo, the pirates believed they would not be paid and changed sides due to an offer of the Cartel. This ended the conflict.
Despite breaking off from the Trade Federation, it wasn't a philosophical split. In addition to having legitimate business concerns, the Metatheran Cartel employed many similar tactics as the Federation. Nevertheless, as soon as the Cartel had strengthened its hold on Cularin, it turned against the piracy using patrol ships. They could not, however, stop the piracy altogether.
The Cartel made both legitimate and illegal business, ignoring their own trade regulations: They dealt with other interests, including SoroSuub Corporation and Sienar Fleet Systems, offering them partnership with preferential trade status, but not membership in the Cartel; they hired, sponsored and pursued smugglers to obtain illegal goods and to handle competitors; they hired pirates to attack smugglers and opposed businesses. The leaders of the Cartel pursued their individual agendas, not worrying about the Cartel's long-term goals. There was no central business organization within the Cartel, so individual Cartel leaders could end up working at cross purposes accidentally, with speakers trying to repair the P.R. debacle later.
In Cularin, the Cartel was based in the platform city of Tindark, which was also the base of their allies of SoroSuub Corporation. The Cartel owned a part of the local spaceport, and rented landing platforms. Some people believe the Cartel used Trade Federation droidekas instead of patrol officers to keep local security.
The initial face of the Cartel was the Metatheran envoy to the Cularin system, Velin Wir. Wir had built a base in the Cularin jungles in secret from Cularin's residents. Though the base was soon revealed, Wir engaged in illegal activities, such as hiring pirates to steal from the competition and cutting down ch'hala trees.
A resistance group came together on Cularin, fearing that the Cartel would be just like the Federation, and gathered proof of Wir's actions. The Cartel suspected something was amiss, and had armed guards patrolling the streets of Gadrin and Hedrett. They also tracked the resistance to their secret base and attacked it with a Caarite hit squad in reprisal for some secret data the resistance had stolen. The resistance attacked the jungle base to gain two final files containing evidence, and Velin Wir was killed during the attack. Wir was declared to have been acting on his own as a rogue, and his replacement, Thurm Loogg, spent much of his time as envoy trying to live down that public-relations debacle.
One of Loogg's first tasks in Cularin was to attempt to negotiate reestablishing offices on the surface of Cularin after Velin Wir's actions destroyed any trust the Cartel might have had. Governor Barnab Chistor of Gadrin ordered a vote but, after it ended in a tie, ultimately refused his petition. Loogg than presented a warship as a gift to the people of Cularin, claiming it as a gesture of goodwill, but it probably was an attempt to buy his way back into their good graces.
Soon afterwards, the Metatheran Cartel was contacted by The Cell, a faction of Nirama's criminal Organization unhappy with Nirama's personal policies. The Cell wanted to oust Nirama and ally with the Cartel, the most powerful trading force in the Cularin system, to create a business monopoly and exploit the available resources, including native Tarasins as slaves, in ways that Nirama opposed. However, the Cell was discovered and disbanded by Nirama before that could happen.
Cartel representatives, including Loogg, attended to the SoroSuub Anniversary celebration, 31 BBY in Genarius. The Cartel disturbed SoroSuub's Miim Te'Suub annual speech by superimposing their logo over him. Te'Suub got furious and heatedly argued with Loogg, with the mediation of attending diplomats and Jedi consuls.
The uniform of the Cartel's security forces consisted of dark gray flight suits with a design of four silver stars placed on the left breast. Officers were distinguished by red bars on their collars.
- A Cularin Presence (First appearance)
- The Resistance Within (Mentioned only)
- A Revelation
- An Uneasy Peace
- TopWorld (Mentioned only)
- Blown Away
- Tilnes Rising
- No Place Like Home
- Caaried Away
- Open Aarms
- Belly of the Beaast
- Paarty On!
- For Fun and Profit
- A Mon Alone (Mentioned only)
- The Eye (Mentioned only)
- Millennium Falcon (Mentioned only)