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Street gangs in the United States date to the early 19th century. The most publicized street gangs in the U.S. are African-American although black gangs were not recognized as a social problem until after the great migration of the 1910s.

Some have argued that increasing gang activity is directly related to decreases in adult mentors, school failures, decreases in after-school programs and similar failures by the adults in the lives of children. While kids from more affluent neighborhoods may turn to other less dangerous alternatives, children from poorer neighborhoods often turn to gangs both as protection and a place to find love and understanding.

There were at least 30,000 gangs and 800,000 gang members active across the USA in 2007, up from 731,500 in 2002 and 750,000 in 2004. By 1999, Hispanics accounted for 47% of all gang members, Blacks 34%, Whites 13%, and Asians 6%.

5 Most Dangerous Street Gangs in the USA

Street gangs in USA have a long history for being brutal, violent and dangerous. The early groups were said to have formed as a way to protect families and localities but later their activities took violent turns leading to formation of street gangs. The street gangs include Hispanics, blacks, whites, bikers and a small percentage of Asians as well.

18th Street Gang

18th street gang tattoos18th Street Gang is the largest street gang consisting of Hispanic members. It is said to have about 20 separate groups operating under the same name in different cities. They can be easily recognized by their tattoos which has 18 written in different ways. Some even have BEST tattooed which stands for Barrio Eighteenth STreet. The gang is sophisticated and very organized. They are generally involved in street crime but there have also been a mention of them being involved in murder for hire, drug trafficking, vandalism, etc.

People Nation

PeopleNation gangPeople Nation is a street gang that has alliances with a lot of other street gangs all over the US. While most African American gangs embraced Islamic doctrines, the People Nation adopted catholic ones. Latin Kings, Black P Stones, Bloods, etc. were the street gangs associated with People Nation. They use graffiti, hand signs, symbols to represent themselves. They use all symbols on their left side.

Black P Stones

Black P StonesBlack P Stones is a black street gang based in Chicago. It has over 42,000 members. It has 7 branches in Chicago which go by different names. Even though they are based in Woodlawn neighborhood, their activities are also seen in a lot of other urban areas all over the US. It is involved in drug trafficking along with other street crimes. They were also involved in buying firearms for terrorist activities. BPS first started to associate with Islam in 1970 and ever since they have a strong Islamic foundation. They have different ways of identifications depending on whether they have a Chicago or Californian influence.

The Bloods

The Bloods gangThe Bloods is another street gang with black membership. They can be recognized by some symbols and hand signs. Their influence is seen all over US. They are dangerous and use violence to assert their power. They are not very organized and a lot of slashings have been reported during robberies. Teenagers are also recruited by this gang and some members in their thirties can also be seen here. The number 5, a five pointed star or a crown is their symbol. They also insult other gangs by drawing their symbols upside down.

The Latin Kings

Latin KingsThe Latin Kings is one of the largest street gangs and consists of Hispanic membership. It is said to have a membership of 25,000 in Chicago and around 15,000 in other areas. It started as a group that fights against oppression but evolved to become one of the most dangerous criminal groups in US. They are very brutal in their activities and are feared all over US. It has only male membership for a long time and once the women were added, they were named Latin queens.


Found - 1959 

Years active - 1959 - present day

Territory - 18th Street gang hold territory in Los Angeles CA, the western and southern areas of the United States, Mexico and Central America.

Ethnicity - Mexican and Central Americans

Membership - 30,000 - 50,000

Criminal activities - Drug trafficiking, Assault, Robbery, Kidnapping, Contract killings, Extortion, Arms trafficking, People trafficking, Vehicle theft, Murder, Illegal immigration, Illegal gambling, 

Allies - Mexican Mafia, Armenian Power

Rivals - Bloods, Mara Salvatrucha, Latin Kings, Sureno sets, Los Zetas, Crips.

From - Chicago, Illinois, USA

Founded by - Jeff Fort and Eugene Hairston

Years active - 1959 - present day

Territory - Chicago, Illinois

Ethnicity - African American

Membership - 30,000 - 42,000

Criminal activities - Drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, murder

Allies - People nation gangs, Bloods, Zoe pound gang, Black Guerilla Family

Rivals - Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Folk Nation, Crips, most Mexican street gangs &white supremacist groups  

Founded - Mid 1972

In - Los Angeles, CA, USA

Years active - 1972 - Present day

Territory - Nationwide

Ethnicity - Primarily African Americans

Criminal activities - Murder, Drug trafficking, Robbery, Extortion

Allies - People Nation, Latin Kings

Rivals - Crips, Folk nation, Surenos

From - Chicago, Illinois

Years active - 1940 - Present day

Territory - United States, Spain, Italy, Belgium, United Kingdom, Canada and Latin America

Membership - Chicago faction 20,000 - 35,000

Criminal activities - Racketing, Assault, Arms trafficking, Drug trafficking, Extortion, Robbery and Murder

Allies - People nation

Rivals - Folk nation


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