This just jumped out of my subconsciousness like a Jack-in-the-Box (the toy, not the burger chain).
Very simply put, a very easy way to determine if something is a real conspiracy or not in to describe it in two words: Bond Villain or Zombie Horde?
If there really is a conspiracy to do something, you would have one super-Villain or a small group group of regular Villains at the top of the organization. They tell the lower-tiered managers what to do, and the hundreds or thousands of minions to carry it out.
You can disrupt this by taking out the Villain(s) at the top or disrupting the communications network. This is why Bond always wins, he really only has to get one guy to stop the whole thing.
If it's NOT a conspiracy, it will look more like a Zombie Horde. Something happens that gets the zombie's attention, and they all as a loose group move toward a common target. Some of them wander off, some trip up other zombies, or they may even attack each other.
With a Zombie Horde, you have to get 100% of them before they get you. You're lucky in the fact that they can't/won't coordinate their actions, but you're still way outnumbered and have limited ammunition.