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Street Gangs Got Start in L.A.
By Don Kelley, Probation and Parole Supervisor, Montana Department of Corrections
Published: 09/13/2010

Mafiamexicana Gang issue reaches into corrections - Part I
This five part series is intended to provide insight into the history, function and hierarchy of some of the most violent of worlds.

This information can help officers recognize some of the risks associated with the supervision of these offender groups and a few real world techniques to reduce risk during and after dealings with them.

To develop an understanding of gang behavior and why street gangs are an issue for many communities across the state, it is important to begin with a history of these groups.

Black Americans have a 75-year history of street gang involvement, primarily in Los Angeles, but their Latino counterparts have a gang history that reaches to the beginning of the 1900s.

Black street gangs began to appear in the 1920s in the downtown area of Los Angeles where they had settled into ethnic neighborhoods. In the years that followed they moved southward to Slauson Avenue. The area between Slauson and Manchester was predominantly white, but the black influence was growing rapidly.

Many of these gangs were collections of family and friends involved in prostitution, robbery and extortion. These gangs faded into history around 1940. It is believed that the original members had aged and the youth of the era distanced themselves from the gangs. Also, the start of World War II took many area youth into the armed forces.

Shortly after the war’s end, the area around Central Avenue and East Los Angeles again saw gangs on the rise. Primary gangs of this era were known as 28th Street and 31st Street.

The 1950s saw a rise in black social clubs in the communities. Some of these were early attempts at developing political organizations. Others had no real purpose other than social gatherings. Most of these clubs were territorial and ethnically organized with visible leadership, and chains of command.

Many of these social clubs soon developed into more violent and illegal organizations, getting involved in petty thefts, robbery and assault.

Murder among gangs still was extremely rare. The weapons of choice were guns, baseball bats, knives – occasionally used to settle territorial disputes.

The Los Angeles Police Department began to identify “street gangs” around 1965. Many of these gangs were car clubs not directly involved in street fighting or territorial disputes. Some of the most popular car clubs of the ’50s and ’60s were the Coasters, the Highwaymen, Low Riders and Road Devils. Many clubs were depicted by Hollywood as much more violent than the facts support.

The era of the ’60s saw a decline of the car clubs as members again aged and faded into the communities. The attention of the community turned to political organizations that were developing. Many members who were in their teens in the early ’60s later turned their attention to other directions and became members and leaders of the Black Panther Party. Escalation of the Vietnam War also may have contributed to the decline in street gang activity then.

Beginning in the early 1980s, El Salvadore experienced a rampant civil war, lasting about 12 years. During this time, some 100,000 people were killed or missing. In the midst of the war, more than 1 million people fled to America.

The Salvadoran refugees, both legal and illegal, began to settle in California and Washington, DC. Individuals with ties to La Mara (one of El Salvadore’s original violent street gangs) were among those immigrating to the United States. Upon arrival, they encountered severe cultural differences and hatred in relation to existing American street gangs. Mara Salvatrucha (MS) quickly asserted itself and became known as a gang indulging in extreme violence.

Many of the members are former members of FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front). The FMLN consisted of peasant guerrilla units trained in the use of explosives and firearms by the CIA in order to fight soldiers of the “Fourteen Families”

The primary difference between MS and traditional American street gangs is the international ties they continue to maintain. The continuing contact between the El Salvadoran military and the South American drug cartels allows for a large amount of easy cash and access to automatic weapons that are difficult for traditional gangs to obtain.

For example, a hand grenade on the streets of El Salvadore sells for $1 and an M-16 rifle sells for $225. The supply of handguns, however, is limited, forcing MS to trade them for narcotics.

By 1980, Los Angeles had an estimated 30,000 gang members. Ten years later, more than 300 Blood and Crip sets operated in Los Angeles County, with more than 150,000 members. Crip and Blood sets can be found in more than 100 American cities.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles, reprinted with permission, about street gangs and motorcycle clubs in Montana, issues for both correctional officers and probation and parole officers.

Part II - Gangs Lure Members in Getting Foothold

Part III - Biker Gangs Have Deep Roots . br>
Part IV - Three Bike Gangs Dominate Montana .

Part V - Hells Angels not big force in Montana


  1. centella on 11/18/2010:

    Here is a one of the most or at least the colors use by the gangs on USA so you can up date your information an get the most recent information obout gangs: Gang Affiliated Sports Team Apparel or Logos Ø Atlanta Braves: People- initial “A” for Almighty Ø Boston Celtics: Spanish Cobras - Colors - Green/Black Ø British Knights: Crips - initials “B” & “K” for Blood Killers Ø Burger King: Crips - initials “B” & “K” for Blood Killers Ø Charlotte Hornets: 4 Corner Hustlers - initials “C” & “H” Ø Charlotte Hornets: Imperial Gangsters - Colors - Black/Pink Ø Chicago Bulls: Vice Lords, Latin Counts, and Mickey Cobras -colors - Black/Red Ø Chicago Bulls: Black Peace Stone Nation - “Bulls” stands for “Boy You Look Like Stone” Ø Chicago Black Hawks: Vice Lords - Colors - Black/Red Ø Chicago Cubs: Spanish Cobras - initial “C” Ø Cincinnati Reds: 4 Corner Hustlers - put a “4″ next to the “C” and an “H” inside of the “C” Ø Colorado Rockies: Simon City Royals - sometimes place a white “S” in front of the “C” Ø Columbia Knights: Bloods - initials “C” & “K” for Crips Killer Ø Converse All Star shoe: People - five point star in the logo of label Ø Dallas Cowboys: People - five point star Ø Denver Broncos: Black Disciples switch “DB” for initials “BD” Ø Detroit Lions: Gangster Disciples - Colors - Black/Blue Ø Detroit Tigers: Folks - initial “D” for Disciples Ø Detroit Tigers: Gangster Disciples - Colors: Black/Blue Ø Duke: Folks - Colors - Black/Blue; “Duke” = “Disciples Utilizing Knowledge Everyday” Ø Georgetown: Folks - initial “G” for Gangster Ø Georgetown Hoyas: Gangster Disciples - Colors: Black/Blue; “Hoyas” stands for “Hoover’s On Your Ass” (Larry Hoover) Ø Georgia Tech: Folks - initial “G” for Gangster Ø Indiana University: Imperial Gangsters - initials “I” & “U” overlapping appear to make the shape of a pitchfork showing “Folks” affiliation Ø Kansas City Royals: Folks - Colors: Black/Blue Ø Kansas City Royals: Simon City Royals - “Royals” Ø LA Dodgers: Gangster Disciples - initial “D” for Disciples Ø LA Kings: Latin Kings - “Kings” Ø LA Kings: People - “Kings” stands for “Kill Inglewood Nasty Gangsters” Ø Los Angeles Raiders: Folks - “Raiders” stands for “Ruthless Ass Insane Disciples Running Shit” Ø Los Angeles Raiders: People - “Raiders” stands for “Raggedy Ass Iced Donuts Everywhere Running Scared”: used to “Disrespect” Folks Ø Louis Vitton Cap: Vice Lords Initials “LV” reversed Ø Miami Hurricanes: People - Color -Orange Ø Michigan: Initial “M” for Maniac Latin Disciples Ø Minnesota Twins: Initial “M” for Maniac Latin Disciples Ø NY Yankees: Gangster Disciples Colors - Black/Blue/White Ø North Carolina Tar Heels: Folks - Colors - Black/Blue Ø Nike: Folks - Colors - Black/Blue Ø Oakland A’s: Ambrose - initial “A” for Ambrose Ø Oakland A’s: Orchestra Albany Initials “O” & “A” Ø Oakland A’s: Spanish Cobras - Color - Green Ø Orlando Magic: Folks - “Magic” stands for “Maniacs and Gangsters in Chicago”; Colors - Black/Blue represents numerous “Folks” gangs Ø Philadelphia Phillies: People - initial “P” for “People” Ø Phoenix Suns: Black Peace Stone Nation - initials “P” & “S” Ø Pittsburgh Pirates: Colors - Black/Gold for Latin Kings; Bloods - Initial “P”; for Pirus (Bloods) Ø San Francisco Giants: Folks - switch initials for “Super Gangster Folk” Ø San Francisco Giants: Future Stones Initials “S” & “F” spelled backwards San Francisco (Any) Stone Freaks Initials “S” & “F” Ø St. Louis Cardinals: Spanish Vice Lords - red-colored hat Ø Starter Symbol: Folks - crack the five-point star to disrespect the “People” Ø Starter Symbol: People - five point star Ø Texas Rangers: People - initial “T” looks like pitchfork pointing down Ø University of Illinois: Folks - initials “U” & “I” together appear to be a pitchfork pointing up Ø University of Nevada at Las Vegas: (UNLV) -Vice Lords Colors: Red/Black; “UNLV” backwards stands for “Vice Lords Nation United” I hope this help you little bet to identified gangas and colors use by them, could be one next to your school or neighborhood.

  2. K500 on 11/11/2010:

    Your info on the FMLN is WAY OFF base. The U.S. supported the El Salvadoran government and opposed the FMLN. The US believed the FMLN were primarily communists supported by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the Soviet Union and Cuba. The CIA and US military helped train the "Contras" guerrillas in Nicaragua to fight against the Sandinista government after the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza. But in neighboring El Salvador, the Reagan Administration solidly backed the government.

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