Organized groups of criminals are called gangs and they are distinguished from one another on the basis of ethnicity, territory, personality, location, objective, publicity and strength. The history of gangs in the USA and many other countries is traceable to the beginning of the 18th century. The earliest American gangs comprised of cowboys, mobsters or the ‘Western outlaws’, which has been a favorite subject of popular western movies. Street gangs are behind 80 % of traditional crime according to police sources. It was estimated that in 2007, there were over 30,000 gangs in USA, and they consisted of more than 800,000 members. According to one analysis, Hispanics account for the majority of the gang members. They constitute 47% of all the members, while Blacks account for 34% of the total members. Whites and Asians constitute 13% and 6 % respectively.
Top 10 Famous Gangs
1. Mara Salvatrucha
The Mara Salvatrucha gang also known as MS-13 was initially organized by the Salvadoran immigrants to protect their community from the attacks of the other, older and well established Mexican and African’“American gangs. The gang consisted of 70,000 members, most of whom were Central Americans. The gang is distinguished by their tattoos and their own sign language. Their Criminal activities involve, robbery, drug , human and arms trafficking, murder, prostitution and illegal immigration. MS-13 is a famous but very dangerous gang and their unique identity is cruelty. On December 23, 2004 they opened automatic fire on a bus, instantly killing 28 civilian passengers in Chamelecon, Honduras. In 2010, the gang murdered a two years old baby and mother. In 2011 an MS-13 member, Alono Casper, was sentenced to more than 24 years imprisonment for child prostitution. The gang had been suspected by FBI to have some connections with the terrorist organization, Al Qaeda.
2. The Hell’s Angels
The Hells Angels Motor Cycle Club, also known as H.A., Red and White and 81, is an outlaw motorcycle club. The U.S. department of Justice considered it to be an organized crime gang. Its name was reverse engineered to the eighth and first letters of alphabet, H and A, standing for Hells Angels and the Red and White was taken from its logo which was designed with red lettering on white ground. The gang was originally organized in Fontana, California by the Bishop family of Scottish-American war immigrants. In San Francisco it was organized by Rocky Graves in 1953. The club has more than one hundred branches in twenty nine countries. Although the club denies it, various police and intelligence agencies are of the firm opinion that the club is one of the four biggest motorcycle gangs that commit dangerous crimes and is involved in drugs, and stolen goods trafficking. It is also alleged to have dealings in prostitution and extortion.
Yamaguchi-gumi, Yakuza, is Japan’s biggest and most influential Yakuza, or a gang. It is headquartered in Kobe, Japan and operates not only throughout Japan but also in Asia and the United States. Whereas the band proclaims itself as Ninkyo dantai, the Chivalrous Organization, the police call them boryokudan, the violence group. The Japanese media is heavily influenced by this gang. The gang is comprised of more than 80,000 members and has a strict code of conduct. It is considered one of the most famous and dangerous gangs in the world. The gang is also known as one of the richest gangs in the world ,on account of accumulating billions of dollars each year from dealing in drugs, sex, gambling, extortion, arms, on-line pornography, and stock market manipulation.
4. Latin Kings
The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation also known as ALKQN is an organized Hispanic gang in the USA. It was formed in Chicago in the 1940s and predominantly comprised of Puerto Rican men. Later, the Mexicans began to dominate the gang. It is active in 39 states and in more than 200 cities. It is a very dangerous gang and many of its members had been indicted for million dollar drug and arms trafficking as well as for mass murders. Main source of income of the gang is selling cocaine in raw or pure form, termed as crack or rock respectively. Other sources include the distribution of heroin and marijuana in streets.
5. The Crips
The Crips are one of the most known and dangerous street gangs in America. It was founded in Los Angeles, California in 1969 by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams. The gang consists of more than 60,000 members, most of whom are African-Americans. The gang is involved in many criminal activities including, robbery, extortion, murder, drug trafficking and identity theft. Formerly, the gang was identified by the predominant use of blue color, but the practice has been changed after the police crackdown upon the members of this gang. The Crips are also known for its intense rivalry against the gang, The Bloods.
6. Al Capone
Alphonse Gabriel , commonly known as Al Capone was born to Italian immigrant parents in a borough of Brooklyn in New York City. He was expelled from the school at the age of fourteen. At twenty years of age, he founded a gang called, The Chicago Outfit. It was formed in the Prohibition era in where the production, transportation and sale of alcohol was banned on a national scale from 1920 to 1930.The gang later changed its name and to honor its founder, and henceforth, its members were known as Capones. The gang was involved in illegal activities like smuggling, bribery, prostitution and illegal transportation of banned liquor which was termed ‘bootlegging’, or rum running in the Prohibition period. Al Capone donated heavily to charity from the money he ‘earned’, so he was known as a modern Robin Hood. In the 1929 Valentine Day Massacre, the Capones murdered seven members of a rival gang.
7. The Forty Thieves
The forty thieves were the first, formed by Edward Coleman in the Lower East Side, New York in 1820s. It was initially formed to protest against their social status which was degraded by prejudice and discrimination, and against the conditions prevailing in the mosquito and disease infested slums of the Bowery and Broadway. Having been so frustrated over these conditions, it converted into a criminal gang. The gang used to meet at Rosanna Peers grocery store and they were each assigned their ‘quota’ of criminal activities.
8. The Bloods
The Bloods are a street gang that was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1972. The gang was known for its rivalry with another famous and dangerous gang, The Crips. The Bloods were involved in criminal activities such as murder, robbery, extortion and drug trafficking. The Bloods are identified by their red colored dress and their specific hand signs. The gang has branches known as ‘sets’, which have different political beliefs and have other differences which creates conflict among themselves.
9. The Aryan Brotherhood
The Aryan Brotherhood is a prison gang comprising of white racists. The gang is also known by its acronym AB or by the denomination One ‘“Two, derived from A and B, the first and second letters of alphabet. This prison gang is involved in criminal activities within the prisons and out of them. Their criminal activities include, murder for hire, inmate prostitution, drug trafficking and robbery. Just how dangerous this gang is, can be assessed by the fact that according to FBI, the gang constituted less than one percent of the prisoners but caused more than 20 % murders in the Federal prisons.
According to the U.S. Government, the Mexican gang Los Zetas is the ‘most technologically advanced, sophisticated, and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico.” The gang originated from the deserted commandos of the Mexican Army’s elite forces. They joined with the then powerful drug trafficking gang, The Gulf Cartel, but disassociated from it later on to emerge as another powerful gang under the name, Los Zetas. The gang is very well organized and equipped with modern arms. It prefers brutality over bribery and beheading or indiscriminate manslaughter are their preferred MOs (Memorandum Operati), methods of operation.
Where many gangs are focused on creating panic and harassment, a few of them are only too brutal and callous to care for human life. They are more inclined towards taking human life rather than just grabbing property and as such they are the most dangerous types of gangs. Having a predetermined life of imprisonment or a death sentence, they are more dangerous than suicide bombers.