Most Notorious Gangs From California Cultural Studies Essay

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The history of existence of gangs in various cities in the United States dates back to some time before the Civil War. Long before, gangs may have existed in the entire US but had not been accorded dire attention till end of the 19th century. Close to a hundred years ago, many immigrants moved into America to seek for better jobs. However, the situation turned the other way when they could not secure jobs, and instead led poor lives. In the beginning, gang groups begun as adolescent groups who gathered together as a way of socializing. These groups were characterized by youth from same race or ethnic background. Five points has been identified in the books of history as the first gang that was officially identified in America. Members of this gang dressed in certain unusual ways and in addition they used nicknames instead of their real names. Gangs that existed in the New York City executed their crime activities in day light due to the corruption that existed in the government.

It is noted that after the Civil War, gangs were much more inclined to their ethnic backgrounds. Thus, there existed in New York; Italian, African American, Jewish and Irish gangs among others. in mid 1800s, Chinese gangs appeared in California specifically in Philadelphia. At around 1840, gangs would dress in unique clothes so as to remain distinctive. In 1920, Chicago was the capital centre for gangs with an average of thirteen hundred gang groups. At the same time, massive migration of Mexicans was taking place across to California. Gangs continued to spread in various cities of the US until today where there exist thousands of gang groups in the US. Among these groups, there are the few that have been identified by thr FBI as the most notorious ones across America. This paper will discuss the most sought after gangs in California, Chicago and New York.

The Bloods is a gang group that also bears the name Pirus and they initially developed in Los Angeles. The initial agenda behind forming this group was to form a group that would help in defending attacks from the Crips 'which is' another gang group. In the initial times, it was comprised by blacks, but as time went by, it attracted membership from Chinese, Greeks and Hispanics. The bloods allowed membership from all sorts of races so as to increase their population and in return gain security. The bloods have been known to perform violent criminal activities which include car theft, rape, murder, drug trafficking, robbery and extortion among other crimes. In fact, the bloods have been articulated with most of stabbings that occurred in New York jails in 1997. Their favorite weapon appears to be the razor blade.

The bloods are identified by unique tattoos engraved or painted on their bodies. The picture on the tattoo is that of duo burned dots that rest on a single burned dot. These are representations of paws of a dog. To the blood members, these are dogs. In terms of clothing, the bloods put on red clothes which they relate to the Chicago Bulls. The bulls use some original and creative hand signals to communicate to one another. When they use hand signals to communicate, it is a way of identifying themselves in public. In addition, it is also a way of showing loyalty to their group. There exist hand signals for common words and those that belong to each distinct community of bloods.

There exists other minor gang groups that are allied to the bloods group. These include the Young Bloods, Mad Stone Bloods, Miller Gangsta Bloods and the Five Nine Brims among others. The unity of these various Blood groups is seen by the way they all unite together to fight against a rival. The Bloods of the New York have unique codes of communicating that appear to be confusing. Their numbers vary from 000 to 9900. The least means Blood/b-dog whereas, the largest means in bed. This unique numbers of communication are tactics to confuse enemies and police.

When it comes to their language of communication, it is a mixture of English words, numbers and initials. In order to remain secretive, the bloods change their codes regularly. They run cycles of replacing new codes with old ones as a way of confusing the police and anyone who is not a member of the group. The Bloods appear to be very organized with a hierarchy that has been embedded on stone. They have a total of ten office members who together help run office affairs smoothly. The most top position is occupied by the First superior who is an overall overseer and disciplining master. The head of security is responsible for administering weapons and discipline to the entire team. Despite existence of this hierarchy of authority, the Bloods believe that all members are equal, none is superior than the other.

The Mexican Mafia

The above is among the oldest and most famous gangs in the United States. Mexican Mafia begun in California in the late 50s. Since then, the gang has expanded to prisons in Arizona, Mexico and Texas. This gang participates in numerous crime activities within and outside the prison bounds. These include; extortion, murder, drug trafficking hence the outstanding grudge with the Black Guerilla family. Mexican Mafia remains to be the supreme gang in California that issues orders to all other gang groups. Any gang that does not heed to the orders of this group risks instances of murder.

Mexican Mafia has been said to have collaborated with Los Angeles crime family in criminal activity. The latter is an Italian American organization that is allied to the Mexican Mafia gang. It is noted that members of the gang are expected to exercise total loyalty to the group lest they face dire punishment. In cases of disloyalty, the only punishment accorded is murder. This gang has been said to be the most dangerous one across the state, but it is also fascinating to note that it is harmless to the public. They do not attack nor torch any civilian.

The 18th Street Gang

The above refers to a gang in the US that was formed in the year 1965 around the Pico union area. Initially the 18th street was a sect allied to the 14th street. Since the 18th street was formed, it has gained members and fame from all large cities of Canada, US and Mexico. The FBI have identified this gang to be a transnational sect because it contains members from across country borders. This gang exercises various crime activities which include producing illegal immigration identification cards and distribution of marijuana and cocaine. It comprises of close to fifty thousand members from central America and Mexico. In the recent years, the upcoming of this gang has caught the concern of the FBI thus the latter has dedicated efforts towards neutralizing this group.

The Latin Kings

The above is a criminal gang rampant in both New York and Chicago. Its members are majorly Hispanic persons and others from Spanish speaking nations. It was founded in Chicago back in 1940s. Initially, it was a movement that was meant to protect the Hispanics, their families and neighborhoods. By 1970s, the intention of the group took a different inclination. Its members began engaging in criminal activities such as trafficking narcotics. Up to today, Latin King Gang has spread to Europe most specific to most areas of Spain. This gang was faced by a major blow in 1995 when most of its members were arrested and convicted with murder thus lowering its fame. Even in the years that followed, many of its significant leaders have been prosecuted against drug trafficking, weapon business and mass murder. As at today, the Latin Kings has been declared the most deadly and ruthless gang in America.

This gang has a constitution that is strictly adhered to by all members. The constitution states three stages that define the life of a nation. These are the Primitive stage 'which is' followed by the mummy or conservative stage and the last is the New King stage. Most members of this gang have remained in the city of origin of the gang which is Chicago. Upon becoming a member of this gang, one is commissioned with five crucial virtues 'which are' honesty, love, unity, respect and knowledge. Each and every member of the group has a responsibility to uphold these five values. It may appear ironical for a gang that practices inhuman activities to abide by such holy virtues. Other than the constitution and virtues, the gang has a symbolic flag that acts as a symbol of identity.

The flag has three colors namely; blue, red and white. These are not just mere colors to beautify the flag, but all have hidden meanings. White symbolizes peace; red is blood and blue is a symbol of ocean and liberty. When one sees the colors of the flag, they recall allegiance and nationalism that is held by this group. It is 'however' evident that the primary purpose of this group changed somewhere along the way. Similar to the blood, the latten King have got an organized and fascinating order of leadership. Their leadership identifies four key positions namely; Inca-first crown who is the top most leader in the Latin Kings. Being the top most commander, his words are always heeded to irrespective of whether they are right or wrong. His duty is to ensure that the entire nation is free from nay danger whatsoever.

The Inca-First is followed in authority by the Second Crown. The second crown stands as the Inca's right side man and he therefore remains to be trusted in all circumstances. Second from bottom is the Warlord who looks over all operations to ensure that they are in the right track. He is sometimes referred to as the brain of operations. Lastly, the officer seats at the lowest rank of leadership. He serves as the nation's inspector. It is 'however' noted that at every community and in jails, there exist local leadership that imitates that of the supreme body. These local authorities in return are answerable to the regional leaders. Looking at the organization of the group, there appears to be an exceptionally organized working process.

Another unique factor that identifies the Latin King is their tendency to wear clothes and beads that have black and gold as their main colors. Recent reports show that the Latin Kings have begun a new culture of not using peoples' names to identify them. Instead, they identify each member by the number of their identity card. In addition, this gang has shown great use of technology to make their group better every other day. The Latin Kings have shown commemoration of all their fallen leaders by making paintings of their portraits across the cities. In addition, if the hero was assassinated by a rival group, they paint the symbol of the rival gang not in a similar manner to theirs, but in an upside manner. Also noted is the fact that Latin Kings have a list of 11 commandments that apply to all its members. An example of these commandments is the fourth one which urges all members of the gang to develop good rapport with their children and families.

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)

The above is a gang group that is spread all over in the United States. It is uniquely described by the nature in which it carries out brutal activities to innocent civilians. MS-13 gang executes criminal activities that include; rape, prostitution, kidnapping, murder, drug trafficking and carjacking among other crimes. Being founded in Los Angeles, its headquarters are based in Los Angeles till today. However, MS-13 members are all over in at least 42 states. Salvadorians form the largest population of the MS-13 gang group. Unlike the other gang groups that have been discussed in this paper, MS-13 has no structured hierarchy of leadership. However, cliques from all over the state contact one another when consulting recruitment issues and matters concerning business.


This paper has identified the most top notorious gang groups in the United States particularly in California, Chicago and New York. These groups exhibit diverse characteristics in terms of composition, leadership and strength. It is 'however' evident that all these groups have one thing in common. The fact that they are all gangs that execute criminal activities puts them in the same category. Several of these groups have leadership protocols and commandments that ought to be followed to the latter. It is however ironical to realize that some of these groups have constitutions that define human virtues yet execute criminal activities. The degree of devotion by these members to their groups is such intense to the extent that members have to obey order from the leaders even when they are wrong. It is however crucial to note that these groups begun at different times and all had diverse reasons at the start. It is 'however' not known how the agenda changes to criminal activities. One would wonder how these groups get rampant even with the existence of strict army officers and intelligence body in the US. This leaves more questions than answers.