Top 5 Gangs in the USA: Famous Gangsters and Gang Names

By Staff Writer | On:
Top 5 Gangs in the USA: Famous Gangsters and Gang Names

Shadowed by world terrorism, “Gangs” is the second priority of concern to the USA but they can’t be overlooked considering the magnitude of danger that lurks around in their presence.

From Motorcycle gangs riding the bikes as their gang identity, street gangs throwing their tantrums in busy streets, prison gangs vying for the utmost dominance among inmates, to Hispanic gangs gathering up people from particular ethnic groups for multiple gang-related activities, the United States is home to around 1.4 million members affiliated to around 33000 gangs.

With its history dating back to the early 1780s, they were initially originated for employing common laborers but over the period, they have evolved into a dangerous mass of people with active indulgence in criminal activities. They are usually found inhabiting urban areas, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.

Wandering away from their normal life due to wide varieties of reasons, they have embraced respective gangs and are characterized by their unfaltering loyalty and great dedication towards the hood.

“Gang Violence in America is not a sudden problem. It has been a part of urban life for years, offering an aggressive definition and identity to those seeking a place to belong in the chaos of large Metropolitan areas.”

-Dave Reichert (A republican and Sheriff of King County, Washington)

Here, I present you with five such gangs who reign in this nation.

1. Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)

Terror, brutal, and ruthless are few words that define Mara Salvatrucha making it unarguably the most vicious gang in America.

Caption: Mara Salavatrucha is another name of terror in the USA


Dating back to 1980s, it was formed with the initial motive to protect Salvadoran immigrants from possible suppression in Los Angeles. When they begin to realize their actual might, they harnessed it in their “Gang businesses” that includes larceny, murdering, human smuggling, prostitution, robbery and other crimes that are seriously violent in nature. Infants, females or aged; they spare no one. By the end of 2012, around 70000 gang members have engulfed entire South and Central America making it the first Transnational Criminal Organization of U.S.With characteristic tattooed body and face, the members have no specified system of hierarchy but still have representatives for conducting meetings to discuss their endeavors.

A former gang member of MS-13 explains her relation with the Hispanic gang, “You live for your God. You live for your mother. You die for your gang.” 

The afore-mentioned quote showed how loyal and dedicated the members are to their gangs.

Dubbed “The World’s most Dangerous Gang” by National Geographic, their actions are also depicted through Sin Nombre (2009), a movie featuring some gang members and Gangland, The History Channel’s television series.

2. Latin Kings

They are called “Kings” for a reason. They earned it as they reign from the top-tier of American gangs. Latin Kings boasts the reputation of being the most organized gang prevailing in the streets of the United States of America.

Caption: Latin Kings dons their particular dresses and pose


Its root is believed to have germinated in 1954 among Puerto Rican and Mexican masses of Chicago, Illinois before it groomed throughout the nation and also in other South American countries. They are present in mammoth 60000 numbers under three different stages that are arranged in Hierarchical order: The primitive, The Conservative and The New King.  The gang is also composed of women too, who are termed “Latin Queens”.

They are usually marked in Black and Gold colors and the drawing of the lion (the king master). Lead by Gino Gustavo Colon, who is currently imprisoned on drug dealing issues, the group has been witnessed in numerous criminal activities like Battery, drug dealing, extortion and other organized crime.

3. Crips

Often, Crip is said to be the abbreviation for “Common Revolution in progress,” “Community Reform Interparty Service,” “Community Revolutionary Interparty Service” but still lacks the fact. However, there is no doubt regarding how dangerously violent and dangerous the gang is.

Caption: Crips are characterized by their blue bandana


This African-American gang was founded in 1969 by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams, two youths from east and west side of Los Angeles respectively who wanted to assure their hood’s safety. Expanding to 35000 in numbers of 8 sets, they are involved in all sorts of activities like drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, murders, and prostitution. Their historic and bitter rivalry with “Bloods” is cited as the biggest contributor in USA’s statistics of gang-related murders having started since 1960.

Crips mostly wore blue attire with blue bandana until cops begun cracking them down with the help of this identity. Renowned rappers like Snoop Dog, Easy E, Scarface along with many others hip hop artists are also reportedly affiliated to the Crips. Intra-gang war between East coast and West coast has been the latest issue that Crips has plunged into.

4. 18th street gang

Calle 18, Barrio 18, La 18 or Mara-18 (AKA 18th street gang) is one such gang that Central America, Mexico, and even Spain fear the most.

Caption: An 18th Street Gang member poses with a stern look on his face.


It is said to have fragmented from Clanton 14, a gang based on 18th street in Los Angeles, during 1960 s following the rejection to form Clanton 18th street for incoming migrants. Initially a Hispanic group, it started recruiting from multiple ethnic groups and has now encompassed membership numbers of 65000 approximately.

They identify themselves with the number 18 or 3 dots depicted on their clothes and tattoo on their body (sometimes entire face). The members are strictly bounded by the regulations of the gang. Any breaching of such rules, if found, are penalized with the famous 18-second beating. Drug trafficking, murder, theft, extortion, arson are few of the activities they are indulged in. 

The gang is believed to be the greatest rival of MS-13 in the race to the prominence among Transnational Criminal Organizations and the blood being spilled shows how much either of them wants it.

5. Hells Angels

Caption:  Hell Angels rides Harley-Davidson motorcycles as their trademark


How often do you see people being intimidated by lads riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles? Well, the Americans fear them every time especially when “Hells Angels” is engraved in them.

“When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets.”

-the motto of Hells Angels.

Although Hell Angels’ official website denies any involvement in misdeeds, the claims have long been disputed with the amount of gang members being alleged and detained for their wide range of criminal involvements, including murder, gang wars, drugs trafficking and drugs dealing among others. The U.S. Department of Justice also has categorized it as crime enterprise. Their rival with The Mongrels, another prominent biker gang, is also clearly visible that adds to its criminal allegations.

Diving into its history, we can know about its tidy foundation in 1948 by a Bishop family from California with the objective of uniting different motorcycle clubs. The name is derived from Hell’s Angels squadron deployed during World War II.