Gangs in the Southwest Region
The 2013 National Gang Report
The 2013 National Gang Report (NGR) represents an overview of current gang activities and trends in the United States. Intelligence herein depicts survey data retrieved collectively from the National Gang Survey (NGS) of the National Alliance of Gang Investigators Associations (NAGIA); the Gangs and US Border Survey conducted by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP); open source reports; and anecdotal examples of gang activity as captured by state, local, tribal and federal gang investigators across the nation
According to the FBI national gang threat assessment report of 2011, there are approximately 5,297 gangs with nearly 111,000 members are criminally active in the Southwest Region. State and local law enforcement agencies in the Southwest Region that report gang activity in their jurisdictions increased from 52 percent in 2004 to 63 percent in 2008.
According to interviews with local law enforcement officers, gangs are responsible for as much as 60 percent of crime in some communities in the Southwest Region. The most significant gangs operating in the region are Barrio Azteca, Latin Kings, Mexikanemi, Tango Blast, and Texas Syndicate.
Gangs are increasingly conducting cross-border criminal activities such as the trafficking of illegal aliens and drugs from Mexico into the United States. Many gangs have established sets in Mexico and maintain associations with local DTOs and Mexican DTO representatives. • A number of gangs in the Southwest Region are smuggling firearms from the United States into Mexico as payment for drugs or to sell for a significant profit.
Gangs continue to proliferate, evolve, and develop criminal tradecrafts. Based on state, local, and federal law enforcement reporting, the NGIC assesses that:
The US gang composition is approximately 88 percent street gang members, 9.5 percent prison gang members, and 2.5 percent outlaw motorcycle gang (OMG) members. NBGs pose the most violent and significant threat in most communities while prison gangs are viewed as the least problematic in most jurisdictions. OMGs are reported as the greatest threat in approximately 11 percent of jurisdictions, despite comprising only 2.5 percent of the gang composition.
Predictive NGIC/NDIC intelligence: Prison and street gangs in the Southwest Region will continue to develop and strengthen their ties to Mexican DTOs. Mexican DTOs may allow gangs to assume a larger role in wholesale drug smuggling across the U.S. – Mexico border and in wholesale distribution within the Southwest Region. Doing so would reduce the risks that Mexican DTOs face from U.S. law enforcement.
Although not included in the Southwest Region and assigned to the Pacific Region this report would be remiss if we failed to report the current trends and gang status within the Pacific Region as its southern part touches the border and impacts Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations.
Approximately 6,900 gangs with more than 237,000 members are criminally active in the Pacific
Region, according to 2008 NDTS data and interviews with local law enforcement officials. Also according to NDTS data, the percentage of state and local law enforcement agencies in the Pacific Region that report gang activity in their jurisdictions increased from 66 percent in 2004 to 74 percent in 2008. As much as 80 percent of crime in some jurisdictions is gang-related, according to law enforcement reporting. The most significant gangs operating in the Pacific Region are 18th Street, Bloods, Crips, La Eme, Nuestra Familia, and Hells Angels.
• MS 13 poses a significant threat to local law enforcement. The gang is involved in criminal activities including drug trafficking, extortion, and firearms violations.
· Predictive NGIC/NDIC intelligence:
• Hispanic gangs, specifically 18th Street, La Eme, Nuestra Familia, and MS 13, will continue to fight for control of retail-level drug distribution in locations throughout the Pacific Region.
• Gang-related criminal activity in the Pacific Region is significant and likely will remain significant as gang members continue to fight for control of territories.
• Gang-related extortion and firearms violations likely will increase.
Gang Members in the Military –
Members of nearly every major street gang as well as some prison gangs and OMGs have been identified on both domestic and international military installations. Deployments have resulted in gang members among service members and/or dependents on or near overseas bases. Additionally, military transfers have resulted in gang members, both service members and dependents/relatives, moving to new areas and establishing a gang presence.
Gang members with military training pose a unique threat to law enforcement personnel because of the distinctive military skills that they possess and their willingness to teach these skills to fellow gang members.
While the number of gang members trained by the military is unknown, the threat that they pose to law enforcement is potentially significant, particularly if gang members trained in weapons, tactics, and planning pass this instruction on to other gang members. In addition, gang members currently serving in the military sometimes take advantage of their positions to engage in criminal activities such as trafficking weapons and drugs.
Gang Relationships with DTOs and Other Criminal Organizations –
Some larger gangs have developed regular working relationships with DTOs and other criminal organizations in Mexico, Central America, and Canada to develop sources of supply for wholesale quantities of illicit drugs and to facilitate other criminal activities.
According to law enforcement information, gang members provide Mexican DTOs with support, such as smuggling, transportation, and security. Specific examples include:
• Some prison gangs are capable of directly controlling or influencing the smuggling of multi-hundred kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamine weekly into the United States.
• Texas-based, regional-level prison gangs cooperate with Mexico-based DTOs to smuggle wholesale quantities of cocaine and marijuana and illegal aliens into the United States from Mexico. Additionally, these gangs extort money from drug and alien traffickers transiting the Southwest Border.
• Some national-level Hispanic street gangs have close associations with Mexico-based DTOs. Hispanic gang members reportedly obtain cocaine and marijuana from the DTOs and transport the drugs to primary U.S. drug market areas for further distribution.
• Canada-based Chinese and Vietnamese DTOs and criminal groups maintain close working relationships with Asian gangs operating in Canada and the United States. Canada-based DTOs are the primary suppliers of multi-thousand tablet quantities of MDMA and multihundredpound quantities of high-potency marijuana to Asian gangs operating in the United States. The DTOs also use Asian gang members for other aspects of drug distribution operations in the United States.
Appendix B. Street Gangs
18th Street (National)
Formed in Los Angeles, 18th Street is a group of loosely associated sets or cliques, each led by an influential member. Membership is estimated at 30,000 to 50,000. In California approximately 80 percent of the gang’s members are illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America. The gang is active in 44 cities in 20 states. Its main source of income is street-level distribution of cocaine and marijuana and, to a lesser extent, heroin and methamphetamine. Gang members also commit assault, auto theft, carjacking, drive-by shootings, extortion, homicide, identification fraud, and robbery.
Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (National)
The Latin Kings street gang was formed in Chicago in the 1960s and consisted predominantly of Mexican and Puerto Rican males. Originally created with the philosophy of overcoming racial prejudice and creating an organization of “Kings,” the Latin Kings evolved into a criminal enterprise operating throughout the United States under two umbrella factions—Motherland, also known as KMC (King Motherland Chicago), and Bloodline (New York). All members of the gang refer to themselves as Latin Kings and, currently, individuals of any nationality are allowed to become members. Latin Kings associating with the Motherland faction also identify themselves as “Almighty Latin King Nation (ALKN),” and make up more than 160 structured chapters operating in 158 cities in 31 states. The membership of Latin Kings following KMC is estimated to be 20,000 to 35,000. The Bloodline was founded by Luis Felipe in the New York State correctional system in 1986. Latin Kings associating with Bloodline also identify themselves as the “Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN).” Membership is estimated to be 2,200 to 7,500, divided among several dozen chapters operating in 15 cities in 5 states. Bloodline Latin Kings share a common culture and structure with KMC and respect them as the Motherland, but all chapters do not report to the Chicago leadership hierarchy. The gang’s primary source of income is the street-level distribution of powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. Latin Kings continue to portray themselves as a community organization while engaging in a wide variety of criminal activities, including assault, burglary, homicide, identity theft, and money laundering.
Asian Boyz (National)
Asian Boyz is one of the largest Asian street gangs operating in the United States. Formed in southern California in the early 1970s, the gang is estimated to have 1,300 to 2,000 members operating in at least 28 cities in 14 states. Members primarily are Vietnamese or Cambodian males. Members of Asian Boyz are involved in producing, transporting, and distributing methamphetamine as well as distributing MDMA and marijuana. In addition, gang members are involved in other criminal activities, including assault, burglary, drive-by shootings, and homicide.
Black P. Stone Nation (National)
Black P. Stone Nation, one of the largest and most violent associations of street gangs in the United States, consists of seven highly structured street gangs with a single leader and a common culture. It has an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 members, most of whom are African American males from the Chicago metropolitan area. The gang’s main source of income is the street-level distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and, to a lesser extent, methamphetamine. Members also are involved in many other types of criminal activity, including assault, auto theft, burglary, carjacking, drive-by shootings, extortion, homicide, and robbery.
Bloods is an association of structured and unstructured gangs that have adopted a single-gang culture.
The original Bloods were formed in the early 1970s to provide protection from the Crips street gang in Los Angeles, California. Large, national-level Bloods gangs include Bounty Hunter Bloods and Crenshaw Mafia Gangsters. Bloods membership is estimated to be 7,000 to 30,000 nationwide; most members are African American males. Bloods gangs are active in 123 cities in 33 states. The main source of income for Bloods gangs is street-level distribution of cocaine and marijuana. Bloods members also are involved in transporting and distributing methamphetamine, heroin, and PCP (phencyclidine), but to a much lesser extent. The gangs also are involved in other criminal activity including assault, auto theft, burglary, carjacking, drive-by shootings, extortion, homicide, identity fraud, and robbery.
Crips is a collection of structured and unstructured gangs that have adopted a common gang culture.
Crips membership is estimated at 30,000 to 35,000; most members are African American males from the
Los Angeles metropolitan area. Large, national-level Crips gangs include 107 Hoover Crips, Insane Gangster Crips, and Rolling 60s Crips. Crips gangs operate in 221 cities in 41 states. The main source of income for Crips gangs is the street-level distribution of powder cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, and PCP. The gangs also are involved in other criminal activity such as assault, auto theft, burglary, and homicide.
Florencia 13 (Regional)
Florencia 13 (F 13 or FX 13) originated in Los Angeles in the early 1960s; gang membership is estimated at more than 3,000 members. The gang operates primarily in California and increasingly in Arkansas,
Missouri, New Mexico, and Utah. Florencia 13 is subordinate to the Mexican Mafia (La Eme) prison gang
and claims Sureños (Sur 13) affiliation. A primary source of income for gang members is the trafficking of
cocaine and methamphetamine. Gang members smuggle multikilogram quantities of powder cocaine and methamphetamine obtained from supply sources in Mexico into the United States for distribution. Also, gang members produce large quantities of methamphetamine in southern California for local distribution. Florencia members are involved in other criminal activities, including assault, drive-by shootings, and homicide.
Fresno Bulldogs (Regional)
Fresno Bulldogs is a street gang that originated in Fresno, California, in the late 1960s. Bulldogs is the largest Hispanic gang operating in central California, with membership estimated at 5,000 to 6,000.
Bulldogs is one of the few Hispanic gangs in California that claim neither Sureños (Southern) nor Norteños
(Northern) affiliation. However, gang members associate with Nuestra Familia (NF) members, particularly when trafficking drugs. The street-level distribution of methamphetamine, marijuana, and heroin is a primary source of income for gang members. In addition, members are involved in other criminal activity, including assault, burglary, homicide, and robbery.
Gangster Disciples (National)
The Gangster Disciples street gang was formed in Chicago, Illinois, in the mid-1960s. It is structured like a corporation and is led by a chairman of the board. Gang membership is estimated at 25,000 to
50,000; most members are African American males from the Chicago metropolitan area. The gang is active in 110 cities in 31 states. Its main source of income is the street-level distribution of cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. The gang also is involved in other criminal activity, including assault, auto theft, firearms violations, fraud, homicide, the operation of prostitution rings, and money laundering.
Latin Disciples (Regional)
Latin Disciples, also known as Maniac Latin Disciples and Young Latino Organization, originated in
Chicago in the late 1960s. The gang is composed of at least 10 structured and unstructured factions with an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 members and associate members. Most members are Puerto Rican males. Maniac Latin Disciples is the largest Hispanic gang in the Folk Nation Alliance. The gang is most active in the Great Lakes and southwestern regions of the United States. The street-level distribution of powder cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and PCP is a primary source of income for the gang. Members also are involved in other criminal activity, including assault, auto theft, carjacking, drive-by shootings, home invasion, homicide, money laundering, and weapons trafficking.
Mara Salvatrucha (National)
Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS 13, is one of the largest Hispanic street gangs in the United States.
Traditionally, the gang consisted of loosely affiliated groups known as cliques; however, law enforcement officials have reported increased coordination of criminal activity among Mara Salvatrucha cliques in the Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York metropolitan areas. The gang is estimated to have 30,000 to 50,000 members and associate members worldwide, 8,000 to 10,000 of whom reside in the United States. Members smuggle illicit drugs, primarily powder cocaine and marijuana, into the United States and transport and distribute the drugs throughout the country. Some members also are involved in alien smuggling, assault, drive-by shootings, homicide, identity theft, prostitution operations, robbery, and weapons trafficking.
Sureños and Norteños (National)
As individual Hispanic street gang members enter prison systems, they put aside former rivalries with other Hispanic street gangs and unite under the name Sureños or Norteños. The original Mexican Mafia
members, most of whom were from southern California, considered Mexicans from the rural, agricultural areas of northern California weak and viewed them with contempt. To distinguish themselves from the agricultural workers or farmers from northern California, members of Mexican Mafia began to refer to the Hispanic gang members who worked for them as Sureños (Southerners). Inmates from northern California became known as Norteños (Northerners) and are affiliated with Nuestra Familia. Because of its size and strength, Fresno Bulldogs is the only Hispanic gang in the California Department of Corrections (CDC) that does not fall under Sureños or Norteños but remains independent. Sureños gang members’ main sources of income are retail-level distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine within prison systems and in the community as well as extortion of drug distributors on the streets. Some members have direct links to Mexican DTOs and broker deals for Mexican Mafia as well as their own gang. Sureños gangs also are involved in other criminal activities such as assault, carjacking, home invasion, homicide, and robbery. Norteños gang members’ main sources of income are the retail-level distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, and PCP within prison systems and in the community as well as extortion of drug distributors on the streets. Norteños gangs also are involved in other criminal activities such as assault, carjacking, home invasion, homicide, and robbery.
Tango Blast (Regional)
Tango Blast is one of largest prison/street criminal gangs operating in Texas. Tango Blast’s criminal
activities include drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder. In the late 1990s,
Hispanic men incarcerated in federal, state, and local prisons founded Tango Blast for personal protection against violence from traditional prison gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood, Texas Syndicate, and Texas Mexican Mafia. Tango Blast originally had four city-based chapters: Houstone, Houston, Texas; ATX or La Capricha, Austin, Texas; D-Town, Dallas, Texas; and Foros or Foritos, Fort Worth, Texas. These founding four chapters are collectively known as Puro Tango Blast or the Four Horsemen. From the original four chapters, former Texas inmates established new chapters in El Paso, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and the Rio Grande Valley. In June 2008 the Houston Police Department (HPD) estimated that more than 14,000 Tango Blast members were incarcerated in Texas. Tango Blast is difficult to monitor. The gang does not conform to either traditional prison/street gang hierarchical organization or gang rules. Tango Blast is laterally organized, and leaders are elected sporadically to represent the gang in prisons and to lead street gang cells. The significance of Tango Blast is exemplified by corrections officials reporting that rival traditional prison gangs are now forming alliances to defend themselves against Tango Blast’s growing power.
Tiny Rascal Gangsters (National)
Tiny Rascal Gangsters is one of the largest and most violent Asian street gang associations in the United
States. It is composed of at least 60 structured and unstructured gangs, commonly referred to as sets, with an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 members and associates who have adopted a common gang culture. Most members are Asian American males. The sets are most active in the southwestern, Pacific, and New England regions of the United States. The street-level distribution of powder cocaine, marijuana, MDMA, and methamphetamine is a primary source of income for the sets. Members also are involved in other criminal activity, including assault, drive-by shootings, extortion, home invasion, homicide, robbery, and theft.
United Blood Nation (Regional)
Bloods is a universal term that is used to identify both West Coast Bloods and United Blood Nation
(UBN). While these groups are traditionally distinct entities, both identify themselves by “Blood,” often
making it hard for law enforcement to distinguish between them. United Blood Nation (UBN) started
in 1993 in Rikers Island GMDC (George Mochen Detention Center) to form protection from the threat
posed by Latin Kings and Ñetas, who dominated the prison. United Blood Nation (UBN) is a loose confederation of street gangs, or sets, that once were predominantly African American. Membership is estimated to be between 7,000 and 15,000 along the U.S. eastern corridor. UBN derives its income from street-level distribution of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana; robbery; auto theft; and smuggling drugs to prison inmates. UBN members also engage in arson, carjacking, credit card fraud, extortion, homicide, identity theft, intimidation, prostitution operations, and weapons distribution.
Vice Lord Nation (National)
Vice Lord Nation, based in Chicago, is a collection of structured gangs located in 74 cities in 28 states,
primarily in the Great Lakes region. Led by a national board, the various gangs have an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 members, most of whom are African American males. The main source of income is street-level distribution of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. Members also engage in other criminal activity such as assault, burglary, homicide, identity theft, and money laundering.
Appendix C. Prison Gangs
Aryan Brotherhood, also known as AB, was originally ruled by consensus but is now highly structured
with two factions—one in the CDC and the other in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The majority
of members are Caucasian males, and the gang is active primarily in the southwestern and Pacific regions. Its main source of income is the distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine within prison systems and on the streets. Some AB members have business relationships with Mexican DTOs that smuggle illegal drugs into California for AB distribution. AB is notoriously violent and is often involved in murder for hire. Although the gang has been historically linked to the California-based Hispanic prison gang Mexican Mafia (La Eme), tension between AB and La Eme is increasingly evident, as seen in recent fights between Caucasians and Hispanics within CDC.
Barrio Azteca is one of the most violent prison gangs in the United States. The gang is highly structured
and has an estimated membership of 2,000. Most members are Mexican national or Mexican American males. Barrio Azteca is most active in the southwestern region, primarily in federal, state, and local corrections facilities in Texas and outside prison in southwestern Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The gang’s main source of income is derived from smuggling heroin, powder cocaine, and marijuana from Mexico into the United States for distribution both inside and outside prisons. Gang members often transport illicit drugs across the U.S.–Mexico border for DTOs. Barrio Azteca members also are involved in alien smuggling, arson, assault, auto theft, burglary, extortion, intimidation, kidnapping, robbery, and weapons violations.
Black Guerrilla Family
Black Guerrilla Family (BGF), originally called Black Family or Black Vanguard, is a prison gang founded in the San Quentin State Prison, California, in 1966. The gang is highly organized along paramilitary lines, with a supreme leader and central committee. BGF has an established national charter, code of ethics, and oath of allegiance. BGF members operate primarily in California and Maryland. The gang has 100 to 300 members, most of whom are African American males. A primary source of income for gang members comes from cocaine and marijuana distribution. BGF members obtain such drugs primarily from Nuestra Familia/Norteños members or from local Mexican traffickers. BGF members are involved in other criminal activities, including auto theft, burglary, drive-by shootings, and homicide.
Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos
Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos (HPL) is a Hispanic prison gang formed in the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in the late 1980s. It operates in most prisons and on the streets in many communities in Texas, particularly Laredo. HPL is also active in several cities in Mexico, and its largest contingent in that country is in Nuevo Laredo. The gang is structured and is estimated to have 1,000 members. Members maintain close ties to several Mexican DTOs and are involved in trafficking quantities of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico into the United States for distribution.
The Mexikanemi prison gang (also known as Texas Mexican Mafia or Emi) was formed in the early
1980s within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The gang is highly structured and is estimated to have 2,000 members, most of whom are Mexican nationals or Mexican American males living in Texas at the time of incarceration. Mexikanemi poses a significant drug trafficking threat to communities in the southwestern United States, particularly in Texas. Gang members reportedly traffic multikilogram quantities of powder cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine; multitoned quantities of marijuana; and thousand tablet quantities of MDMA from Mexico into the United States for distribution inside and outside prison. Gang members obtain drugs from associates or members of the Jaime Herrera-Herrera, Osiel Cárdenas- Guillén, and/or Vicente Carrillo-Fuentes Mexican DTOs. In addition, Mexikanemi members maintain a relationship with Los Zetas, a Mexican paramilitary/criminal organization employed by the Cárdenas- Guillén DTO as its personal security force.
The Mexican Mafia prison gang, also known as La Eme (Spanish for the letter M), was formed in the late 1950s within the CDC. It is loosely structured and has strict rules that must be followed by the 200 members. Most members are Mexican American males who previously belonged to a southern California street gang. Mexican Mafia is primarily active in the southwestern and Pacific regions of the United States, but its power base is in California. The gang’s main source of income is extorting drug distributors outside prison and distributing methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana within prison systems and on the streets. Some members have direct links to Mexican DTOs and broker deals for themselves and their associates. Mexican Mafia also is involved in other criminal activities, including controlling gambling and homosexual prostitution in prison.
Ñeta is a prison gang that began in Puerto Rico and spread to the United States. Ñeta is one of the largest and most violent prison gangs, with about 7,000 members in Puerto Rico and 5,000 in the United States. Ñeta chapters in Puerto Rico exist exclusively inside prisons; once members are released from prison they are no longer considered part of the gang. In the United States, Ñeta chapters exist inside and outside prisons in 36 cities in nine states, primarily in the Northeast. The gang’s main source of income is retail distribution of powder and crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana and, to a lesser extent, LSD, MDMA, methamphetamine, and PCP. Ñeta members commit assault, auto theft, burglary, drive-by shootings, extortion, home invasion, money laundering, robbery, weapons and explosives trafficking, and witness intimidation.
Appendix D. Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
Bandidos Motorcycle Club, an OMG with 2,000 to 2,500 members in the United States and 13 other countries, is a growing criminal threat to the nation. Law enforcement authorities estimate that Bandidos is one of the two largest OMGs in the United States, with approximately 900 members belonging to more than 88 chapters in 16 states. Bandidos is involved in transporting and distributing cocaine and marijuana and producing, transporting, and distributing methamphetamine. Bandidos is most active in the Pacific, southeastern, southwestern, and west central regions and is expanding in these regions by forming new chapters and allowing members of support clubs to form or join Bandidos chapters. The members of support clubs are known as “puppet” or “duck” club members. They do the dirty work of the mother club.
Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) is an OMG with 2,000 to 2,500 members belonging to more than 250 chapters in the United States and 26 foreign countries. HAMC poses a criminal threat on six continents. U.S. law enforcement authorities estimate that HAMC has more than 69 chapters in 22 states with 900 to 950 members. HAMC produces, transports, and distributes marijuana and methamphetamine and transports and distributes cocaine, hashish, heroin, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), MDMA, PCP, and diverted pharmaceuticals. HAMC is involved in other criminal activity, including assault, extortion, homicide, money laundering, and motorcycle theft.
Mongols Motorcycle Club is an extremely violent OMG that poses a serious criminal threat to the Pacific and southwestern regions of the United States. Mongols members transport and distribute cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine and frequently commit violent crimes, including assault, intimidation, and murder, to defend Mongols territory and uphold its reputation. Mongols has 70 chapters nationwide, with most of the club’s 800 to 850 members residing in California. Many members are former street gang members with a long history of using violence to settle grievances. Agents with the ATF have called Mongols Motorcycle Club the most violent and dangerous OMG in the nation. In the 1980s, the Mongols OMG seized control of southern California from HAMC, and today Mongols club is allied with Bandidos, Outlaws, Sons of Silence, and Pagan’s OMGs against HAMC. The Mongols club also maintains ties to Hispanic street gangs in Los Angeles.
Outlaws Motorcycle Club has more than 1,700 members belonging to 176 chapters in the United States and 12 foreign countries. U.S. law enforcement authorities estimate that Outlaws has more than 94 chapters in 22 states with more than 700 members. Outlaws also identifies itself as the American Outlaws Association (A.O.A.) and Outlaws Nation. Outlaws is the dominant OMG in the Great Lakes region. Gang members produce, transport, and distribute methamphetamine and transport and distribute cocaine, marijuana and, to a lesser extent, MDMA. Outlaws members engage in various criminal activities, including arson, assault, explosives operations, extortion, fraud, homicide, intimidation, kidnapping, money laundering, prostitution operations, robbery, theft, and weapons violations. It competes with HAMC for membership and territory.
Sons of Silence
Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club (SOSMC) is one of the largest OMGs in the United States, with 250 to 275 members among 30 chapters in 12 states. The club also has five chapters in Germany. SOSMC members have been implicated in numerous criminal activities, including murder, assault, drug trafficking, intimidation, extortion, prostitution operations, money laundering, weapons trafficking, and motorcycle and motorcycle parts theft.
Key Findings –
• Gangs continue to commit violent crimes, including assaults, and robberies, and threats and intimidation more so than white collar-type crimes such as identity theft and credit card fraud. Drug trafficking was identified as the most common criminal activity of gangs.
• Gangs rely on street-level drug distribution and trafficking as their primary source of revenue and supplement their income with crimes that pose less risk, such as prostitution, tax fraud, counterfeiting, and extortion. Street gangs utilize legitimate businesses, such as music establishments and cash-intensive companies to conceal and launder illicit proceeds.
• Prison gangs launder criminal proceeds through tax fraud and extortion schemes, and Green Dot card/prepaid card technology. Family members, friends, and compromised correctional staff often facilitate gang activities and recruitment during a gang member’s incarceration.
• Street gangs continue to migrate nationwide to increase profit and drug distribution, to establish new territory, and in search of legitimate employment to supplement their illicit income. Street gang migration sometimes occurs due to prison transfers of incarcerated gang leaders whereby leaders order their street subordinates to relocate to communities proximal to the leader’s new prison facility. This helps expand the gang into new territories, increase their criminal enterprises, and provide support to their incarcerated leader.
• Gangs establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with other gangs and criminal enterprises. National-level gangs and NBGs continue to form relationships with DTOs, such as Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations (MTCOs). These relation- ships increase profits for gangs through drug distribution, drug transportation, and the commission of violent crimes to enforce drug payment and protect drug transportation corridors from rival usage. National street gangs are recruiting, organizing, and controlling NBGs to increase their membership and eliminate competition. Rival gangs collaborate for mutual profit and to increase numbers for protection on the street or while incarcerated.
• Gang members exploit corrections facilities, military installations, government bodies, and law enforcement agencies to perpetuate their criminal enterprise. Upon employment, gang members and associates exploit their position within law enforcement, government, and judicial agencies, and encourage their relatives and associates to follow suit, in order to gather information on rival gang members, target law enforcement, and disrupt criminal investigations. Gang presence in the US military continues to pose a criminal and security threat to law enforcement and the community as members may gain access to or master advanced weapons systems, develop combat skills and, gain access to sensitive items and material.
• Gang activity continues to expand into prostitution and human trafficking, as these crimes yield steady financial rewards and are perceived to be at low risk from law enforcement detection. The NGIC has identified at least 30 gangs that are involved in prostitution or human trafficking operations.
• Gangs employ technology in order to communicate covertly and conduct criminal operations with minimal risk of detection. Using technology, gangs locate and establish targets; intimidate rivals; facilitate criminal activity; enhance criminal operations; and monitor law enforcement. Gangs employ popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, use Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, and exploit online gaming systems such as Xbox and PlayStation.
• Gang presence in US schools is a formidable obstacle for educators, law enforcement, and other youth-service professionals. Street gangs are linked to crime in elementary, secondary, and high schools, and on select college campuses. Schools provide fertile grounds for recruitment and many public schools are rife with gang activity such as assaults, robberies, threats and intimidation, drug distribution, and weapons offenses. Gang presence on college campuses is a growing concern as more gang members are gravitating toward colleges to escape gang life, join college athletic programs, or to acquire advanced skill sets for their gang.
• All-female gangs are on the rise in many jurisdictions, as well as, female participation and full-fledged memberships within male-dominant gangs are steadily escalating. Female gang members typically support male gang members, serving as mules for drugs, couriers for weapons, and gathering intelligence for the gang, although, many are taking more active roles by serving as soldiers or co-conspirators. Female gang members in some jurisdictions are forming their own gang sets and commit violent crimes comparable to their male counterparts.
Gang Survey Results -
Once released, many prison gang members return to the street gangs from which they hail. These gang members continue to participate in gang-related crimes while assuming more active leadership roles. More than 61 percent of survey respondents report a high recidivism rate within their jurisdictions, and for the past two years, 37 percent of survey respondents estimate the recidivism rate has increased in their jurisdiction.
Gangs and Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations –
Street and prison gangs, as well as OMGs and associates, develop and foster relationships with transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) in Mexico and Central America. Although the nature of each relationship varies by region, most are opportunistic arrangements. Gangs and TCO alliances are most often a product of geographic convenience, profit-making opportunity, and business efficiency.
Of those surveyed, 23 percent of law enforcement officials report that gangs in their jurisdictions align with MTCOs. Among 81 percent of such alliances, a symbiotic relationship exists. MTCOs control gangs in 15 percent of these alliances. Intelligence indicates that street gangs in the United States most commonly collaborate with Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel.14
Gangs cooperate with MTCOs primarily in drug smuggling activities, as drugs provide the primary source of revenue for US-based gangs while MTCOs control most of the cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana trafficked from Mexico into the United States. Accordingly, most US-based gangs are involved in the street-level distribution of drugs, as well as in the wholesale, transportation and, in some cases, manufacturing of drugs. While largely based in Mexico, MTCOs rely on US-based gangs to distribute drugs to US communities, which allows MTCOs to amass enormous profits without putting their operations at risk
MTCOs partner with more than 100,000 documented street gang members in Chicago to advance their criminal activities. According to March 2013 open source reporting, the increased violence in Chicago is attributable to MTCOs competing for control over Chicago’s drug market by supplying rival gangs, which are subsequently competing over street level drug sales and territory. Battles for control over marijuana, cocaine, and heroin distribution amongst Los Zetas and Sinaloa Cartels and their violent street gang counterparts have escalated in recent years.
The Southwest Border
Gangs, especially national-level Hispanic gangs, such as MS-13, the Eme, Sureños, and TB, continue to pose a significant threat to the Southwest border region. Gangs in the region exploit opportunities along the nearly 2,000 miles of contiguous US-Mexico territory to engage in a multitude of crimes, including drug-related crimes, weapons trafficking, alien smuggling, human trafficking, prostitution, extortion, robbery, auto theft, assault, homicide, racketeering, and money laundering.
Of these offenses, drug-related crimes – such as production, smuggling, trafficking, and distribution – are the most widely reported criminal acts committed by gangs of all types. Alien smuggling is the second most prevalent crime that gangs commit in the region, based on CBP reporting.
In September 2013, a known member of the Okie Town gang in Arizona was arrested, along with an accomplice, for attempting to smuggle two Mexican nationals into the United States. One of the Mexican nationals had prior drug convictions. Immigration violations also present a significant challenge to law enforcement in the region. In many cases, gang members who commit criminal activity in the region are not US citizens nor lawful permanent residents.
Once deported, gang members attempt to reenter the United States illegally in order to rejoin the gang and engage in criminal activity. CBP survey respondents indicate in some southwest border sectors, the percentage of non-US citizen gang members was as high as 80 percent.
Materials gathered are from 2009 Gang Assessment Report and 2013 Gang Assessment Report