For the current administration, migration is the cause of the growing number of gang members
President Donald Trump believes that Latino gangs are one of the "major threats to public and national security" in the United States and their combat has become an essential pillar to justify the tightening of immigration policy. The US commander in chief has addressed, during several speeches, the last of which was on July 28 during a visit to Long Island, New York, where he spoke to a group of police officers.
In addition, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to El Salvador to discuss the matter with the authorities of the Central American country. Not to mention, the great operation of May that resulted in the arrest of more than 1,300 alleged gang members by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Throughout this attack against gangs, Trump and his cabinet often center the attacks on the Mara Salvatrucha (or MS-13), but it is not the only active Latin criminal band in the United States. Here are the most relevant as of now:
The Mexican Mafia
Also known as the EME; it was founded back in the 1950s within the California prison system for the purpose of protecting Latino prisoners from other inmates and officials. It is currently the most powerful gang in California; has control of dozens of prisons in the south of the state and its influence extends to other states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida. It has about 30,000 members throughout the United States.
The gang network known as “Los Sureños” is closely linked to the Mexican Mafia; it provides what it needs for its business in prisons. They started out in the oldest neighborhoods of southern California and make up hundreds of gangs, each with its own identity. Its influence has spread to other parts of the United States (it is estimated to be present in 20 states, mainly in the center and southwest part of the country).
The EME and the Sureños are two independent groups that are part of a whole. They are grouped under the same symbols (XIII) and colors (blue) but, above all, they share the same enemy: the NF, “Nuestra Familia”.
It is a gang formed by a coalition of Latino gangs operating in Northern California, also known as “Los Norteños”. The division line is usually established in the rural county of Delano. Los Norteños have the number XIV as a symbol and their color is red.
This band of Mexican origin is the historic rival of the Mara Salvatrucha and appeared for the first time as a street gang in Los Angeles. According to Gabriel Morales, researcher over at the National Gang Center, the group began to take its current form in the 1970s after splitting from the Clanton 14th Street gang.
Originally, many members of the group, known as "clicas", were composed exclusively of Mexican immigrants from Southern California. However, as other Latino nationalities came to the area, Barrio 18 began recruiting members from other origins, especially Central Americans, which facilitated the spread of the assembly in that region where it is known as Mara 18 (M-18).
Also known as “Los Aztecas”, this street gang operates in the southern US states, mainly in New Mexico and Texas, and crosses the border into México where you can find about 5,000 of their members in Ciudad Juárez. The assembly is linked the Cartel de Juárez de México and it is considered one of the most violent gangs. The gang has been involved in prison massacres.
It is a band that was formed in New York and it’s made up of mostly Dominican immigrants. Although it is not as well-known as the previous mentioned, "Los Trinitarios" are one of the bands with the fastest growth in the USA. Its members have been detected in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Ohio. They are very active in the traffic narcotics.
Crips against Bloods
One cannot forget two gangs that played a significant role in history due to their violent rivalry: the Bloods and the Crips. Both gangs, whose members are mostly African American, were born in Los Angeles and wage a war that has at times turned the film and glamor mecca into "the most dangerous place in the United States."
According to data from the US National Gang Center, 45.5% of gang members are of Latino origin, followed by 39.0% of African-Americans and 9.7% of non-Hispanic whites.
Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto