These Five Most Dangerous Gangs Are Taking Over California

California harbors numerous street gangs, some notorious for their history of violence, crime, and disruption. These groups jeopardize the safety and stability of the communities they inhabit. In this article, we’ll delve into the five most perilous gangs in California, analyzing their size, operations, and impact.

1. MS-13

Originating in Los Angeles during the 1980s, MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, emerged from Salvadoran immigrants escaping their country’s civil war. Infamous for their brutality and loyalty, the gang engages in a spectrum of criminal activities, including murder, extortion, drug and human trafficking. With an estimated 10,000 members across the US, predominantly in California, MS-13 operates in 40 countries worldwide.

2. 18th Street Gang

Founded in Los Angeles during the 1960s, the 18th Street Gang, or Barrio 18, arose from Mexican-American youths rejected by other gangs. Rapidly expanding, it’s now one of California’s largest and most diverse gangs, comprising members from various ethnic backgrounds. Involved in crimes such as robbery, assault, and drug dealing, the 18th Street Gang boasts an estimated 15,000 members in Los Angeles alone, operating in 120 cities across the US and Central America.

3. Crips

Established in late 1960s Los Angeles by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams, the Crips aimed to unify against rival gangs. Recognizable by their blue attire, hand signs, and graffiti, they’re notorious for crimes including murder, robbery, and drug trafficking. With approximately 35,000 members in California, the Crips are subdivided into numerous feuding sets, often clashing with rival gangs like the Bloods.

4. Bloods

Formed in early 1970s Los Angeles by former Crips members, the Bloods emerged in response to internal conflicts within their previous gang. Distinguished by their red attire and symbols, they engage in a range of criminal activities akin to the Crips, including murder and drug trafficking. With an estimated 20,000 members in California, they’re divided into various sets, sometimes collaborating with allied gangs such as the Norteños and the People Nation.

5. Norteños

Originating in Northern California during the 1960s, the Norteños, affiliated with the Nuestra Familia prison gang, rival the Sureños. Recognizable by their red attire and symbols, they’re involved in crimes like murder, assault, and drug trafficking. With an estimated 10,000 members, mainly active in the Central Valley and the Bay Area, the Norteños fiercely compete with their Southern counterparts.


These five gangs stand out as the most menacing in California, impacting millions of residents with their violence and criminal activities. Combatting their influence poses a significant challenge to law enforcement agencies and communities alike. Heightened awareness and support for efforts to counter these gangs are crucial in mitigating their threat to public safety.

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