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Hispanic Gangs Understanding the Marginal Man or woman The Beginnings of Hispanic Gangs We can say that in some ways the end of the War with Mexico is the beginning of Hispanic street gangs in the US. The resentments and general attitudes of Anglos after the War caused resentment to grow and fester among Mexican Americans who felt they had been cheated by the Americans out of their heritage. Hispanic Gangs In the early 1900's, Los Angeles experienced the birth of the first Hispanic street gangs. Mexican-Americans who lived in the "pueblo" of Los Angeles still felt displaced, even as naturalized citizens. Many of these new Americans were treated like second- class citizens by white Angelenos, and were told to go back to their home, Mexico. In the minds of Hispanics in Los Angeles, they were already home, but their home was now part of the United States because of the annexation. The Mexican immigrants also tended to live in the same areas, with family or other Mexicans who migrated from the same geographical areas of Mexico. These neighborhoods were often some of the poorest areas in rapidly growing Los Angeles. These conditions aided in the development of rivalries between various immigrant groups. A modern class distinction was also developing. Mexican street gangs formed in part due to economic conditions, prejudice and racism By the 1920s, El Paso, Texas had become a center for many immigrant Mexicans, much like Los Angeles. In fact, an underground travel route developed between the two cities. This route allowed El Paso trends to directly influence the L.A. street gangs. In El Paso, Texas, many of the Mexicans who went to prison were incarcerated in Huntsville. While in the Huntsville prison, they formed a prison gang called the El Paso Tip. El Paso Tip took it's name from the area of Texas where the prison was located. Fellow gang members would greet each other by saying: "are you tipped up?" or "are you tipped?" The growth of the aircraft industry in the 40s in California brought many immigrants to California including Mexicans. Zoot Suits and the Pachucos Mickey Garcia, a young boy from Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico migrated north and relocated in El Paso, Texas He immediately joined a local Mexican street gang called the Secundo Barrio. Garcia also brought with him a unique style of dress, initially thought to have originated in Mexico. Garcia's dress style became an instant hit with all the young people, especially the local gang members. Zoot Suits His fashion included a felt hat with a long feather in it, called a tapa or tanda. The pants were pleated and baggy, and referred to as tramas. The shirt was creased and called a lisa. A carlango, a long, loose-fitting coat, was worn over the ensemble. The shoes, called calcos, were French-toe style or Stacy Adams brand and were always shined. To complete the style, one had to have a long chain attached to the belt loop that hung past the knee, and into the side pocket of the pants. This outfit became known as the zoot suit, and was later referred to as the pachuco look. The Beginnings of Strife The Maravilla gangs started to form during the mid-to-late 1940s, and continued to grow well into the 1950s. The concept of protecting turf was expanded within the housing projects known as Maravilla, where the Maravilla gangs got their start. Competition for jobs, women and turf became issues for the youth that lived in this area. 1942 and the 18th Street Gang After a man was killed at a swimming hole, suspects were rounded up and subsequently sent to prison. They handled it well and became folk-heros in the Mexican- American community and the manner of dress they adopted a “gang pride.” Zoot Suit Riot Resentments on part of Anglos Resentment on part of Mexican-Americans Conflicts with military personnel Resulted in ongoing assaults on men wearing Zoot Suits by military personnel The Mexican Mafia Between 156-57 several Eslos were doing time at Duel Vocational Institute and formed La Eme San Quentin 1968 A day-long battle between Mex-mafia and Nortenos. Opposition to La Eme the murder solidified the rivalry between northern and southern Hispanics, both in the prison system and on the street. The Hispanics from northern California formed Nuestra Familia (NF), another prison gang, in response to the conflict. NF was formed to protect the northern Californians from La Eme, whose membership was made up primarily of southern Californians. Street and prison gang members from northern California began to use the number 14 as an identifier. It represented the 14th letter of the alphabet, the letter "N." The letter stood for Norteno, the Spanish word for northerner. The term norte was used to show that a person was from the north. Individuals from southern California were automatically considered rivals, both inside the prison system and on the streets. Inmates in the state prison system were given bandannas in a railroad print, and could select from two colors: red or blue. Hispanic street and prison gangs from northern California claimed the color red to identify themselves. They used this color because most of the southern California Hispanics in state prison had chosen to wear a blue-colored railroad handkerchief. The Crips and Bloods were not the first gangs to use red or blue to identify. Code of Conduct Evolved Do not cooperate with the police Take care of business yourself (handle your own problems). Never snitch or inform on gang activity (be a rata/rat). No insult, no matter how small, goes unanswered. The New Hispanic Gang By the 1970s the firearm had become the weapon of choice New immigrants became a source of prey They formed gangs for self-protection Gang violence became the rule No rules, “only the strong survive.” Drugs and Hispanic Gangs By the late 1980s, Hispanic gangs such as 18th Street, 38th Street, and Big Hazard began to sell drugs for profit. Los Angeles the Gang capital of the US Respect was no longer based on age or experience, but on fear. Latin King and Queen Nation Largest of Hispanic gangs in Chicago and perhaps in the US. Rooted in the Puerto Rican experience in the US. Mara Salavatrucha (MS 13) In the early 1980s, a violent civil war began in El Salvador which would last more than 12 years. Approximately 100,000 people were killed in the war, and more than one million people fled from El Salvador to the U.S. The Salvadorian refugees and immigrants initially settled primarily in southern California and Washington, D.C.. Some of the refugees and immigrants had ties with La Mara, a violent street gang from El Salvador. Others had been members of paramilitary groups like the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMNL) during the civil war. FMNL was made up of Salvadorian peasants who were trained as guerilla fighters. Many were adept at using explosives, firearms, and booby traps. MS 13 Most of the refugees settled in Hispanic neighborhoods, but were not readily accepted. – The result was MS 13 formed in the late 1980s for protection. – Known for being extremely violent with the machete being the weapon of choice. MS 13 Involved in a variety of crimes from drugs to theft and murder for hire. Originally only El Salvadorans could be in MS 13, but gradually they expanded to allow other central Americans and a few black Americans. MS 13 Gang members identify themselves with the number 13, usually with SUR or MS included. – They also identify themselves as “southerners” thus Surenos. – They often attack 18th Street gang members on sight. – Show no fear of Law Enforcement MS 13 Two primary methods for dealing with MS 13 – Arrest • May involve prison time – Deportation • If sent back to El Salvadore gang members fear they will be targeted by Sombra Negra 18th Street Gang One of the largest and best known of street gangs in the nation. – Expanded to many states and Indian country – L/E estimates that member ship is at least 30,000. 18th Street Gang Formed in the 60s – Result of racial discrimination by the Clanton Street Hispanic gang who restricted membership to American citizens of pure Hispanic origin. • First gang to cross the racial barrier and this allowed a rapid and unchecked growth. 18th Street Gang Criminal Activity – Drugs • Heroin, coke, “rock” cocain, meth, Marijuana • “tax collection” 18th Street Gang Characteristics – Tattoos • 18, 666, XVIII • Clothing – Black trousers, white T-shirts, sports teams 18th Street Gang Recruit from elementary age children A big arsenal of weapons – Assault rifles, tech 9, Mac 10s and 11s, 357, 9mm, .44s and so on – Estimates are that the 18th Street gang will continue to grow.
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