America has a long history of gangs that center around some of the largest metropolis areas, including New York and Los Angeles. Many of these gangs began around the 1950s, and have since persisted to present day. In America, there is an extensive history of gangs and gang activity that have continued to modern day. One of the most well known gangs is Hells Angels Motorcycle club, which was founded in 1948 in California. This group was inspired by World War Two’s brave bomber pilots, but bored by the post war era, which encouraged conformity. Hells Angels have a reputation for violence, drug dealing, and stealing, but coast around on Harley Davidson Motorcycles in a free wheeling lifestyle (“Gang History,” 1).
The 18th Street Gang also began in Los Angeles, but on the eastern side. This group came about in the 1960s, and was also referred to as the “Children’s Army,” because many new recruits came from elementary and middle school aged kids. Common strategies employed by this gang included fear tactics and threats of harm to family members if any gang member attempted to leave. More serious offenses within the gang call for harsh beatings, or even death. This gang is known for criminal activity, such as shooting, extortion, rape, and auto theft (“Gang History,” 1).
In the seventies, American Gangsters Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes ruled New York’s drug market and were known as the drug lords of Harlem. At one point, Lucas was making about one million per day through drug trafficking on 116th street. Lucas is most famous for his “Cadaver Connection” stunt, in which he brought heroin over from Vietnam in the caskets of dead American soldiers. He was convicted of this in 1976 (“Gang History,” 1).
The Black P Stones gang began in 1960 in Chicago. This group controlled neighborhoods of southern Chicago, running various businesses. By 1970, they had become the most powerful gang in all of Chicago. Today, members of this gang can be found in every state across America (“Gang History,” 1)
The Latin Kings are based in both New York and Chicago and are made up primarily of Hispanic members. Started in the forties, this originally began as a way for Hispanics to remain protected, along with their families. By the seventies, however, the Latin Kings were involved in mostly criminal activities, especially the trafficking of narcotic drugs. Since the seventies, the Latin Kings have become a worldwide gang, spreading into Latin America and all over Europe (“Gang History,” 1).
The Mexican Mafia is another predominately Hispanic gang. This started out in California in the late fifties. Originally, this group was created as a means of unity through religion, but later, they banded together to protect themselves from African American convicts and other inmates. The organization has grown rapidly since, and is now associated with extortion, drug trafficking, and murder (“Gang History,” 1).
Ms-13 came about in the eighties in Los Angeles in response to attacks from other Mexican gangs. Now, the gang has members in 42 states across the nation, where they are most known for their violence (“MS-13,” 1). Other involvements include drug smuggling and sales, human trafficking, assassinations for hire, and black market gun sales. Their crimes are known to be less organized than other gangs’, as they are known to act more impulsively (“MS-13,” 1).
In summary, America has an extensive history of gangs and gang activity, with some of the more well known gangs being the Black P Stones, MS-13, and the Latin Kings, to name a few. While some have diminished significantly since their beginning, others have risen to prominence throughout the world.

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  • “Gang History.” A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 22 Sept. 2015. .
  • “MS-13 Profile.” InSight Crime. 2015. Web. 22 Sept. 2015. .