Mexican and Chicago culture is huge on the West Coast of the United States. Mexicans have been living here for a long time and so has the Mexican Gangs. The gangs were actually started a long time ago, as far back as the 1900s.

To understand how deep rooted this type of Hispanic gang is, lets take a look at the history of these Mexican gangs.


Mexican immigration to the United States has a long history, dating back to the 19th century. Many Mexicans came to the U.S. seeking work in agriculture, mining, and other industries. As Mexican communities formed in various parts of the country, social and economic challenges emerged, including discrimination and marginalization.

Despite their contributions to the U.S. economy, Mexican immigrants faced significant challenges and discrimination. They encountered prejudice, racism, and xenophobia from both government institutions and society at large. Discriminatory practices such as segregation, unequal access to education and housing, and exploitation in the workplace were widespread.

For the Barrios

Mexican immigrants often settled in urban areas, forming tight-knit communities known as barrios. These neighborhoods became centers of Mexican culture and identity but also faced socioeconomic struggles, such as poverty, overcrowding, and limited access to education and opportunities.

Barrios emerged as Mexican immigrants settled in urban areas across the United States, particularly in regions with significant agricultural, industrial, or railroad sectors where labor was in demand.

These neighborhoods were often characterized by densely populated areas with modest housing, typically consisting of small homes or apartment buildings.

Barrios were centers of Mexican culture and identity, where residents spoke Spanish, celebrated traditional customs and holidays, and maintained connections to their homeland.

Despite the vibrant cultural life and strong community bonds found in barrios, residents faced various challenges and obstacles. Discrimination, poverty, inadequate housing, limited access to education and healthcare, and language barriers were persistent issues that affected the well-being and opportunities of individuals and families.

Emergence of the Hoods

In the mid-20th century, Mexican-American youths in barrios began forming street gangs as a way to protect themselves from discrimination, assert their identity, and find a sense of belonging. Gangs provided a form of social organization and protection in environments where residents often felt marginalized and vulnerable.

Mexican immigrants and their descendants often faced social and economic marginalization in American society.

Discrimination, poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and limited access to mainstream institutions contributed to feelings of alienation and disenfranchisement among youth in Mexican-American neighborhoods.

n the absence of positive outlets for socialization and belonging, some young people in Mexican-American communities formed their own subcultures as a way to assert their identity and find camaraderie.

These subcultures often revolved around shared experiences of marginalization, cultural pride, and resistance to authority.

Protection and Survival

Gangs initially emerged as a form of protection and survival within neighborhoods where residents faced threats from rival groups, criminal elements, or law enforcement.

Joining a gang offered a sense of security, solidarity, and empowerment for young people who felt vulnerable or marginalized in their environment.

In communities with limited economic opportunities, gangs provided alternative avenues for young people to earn money and gain status.

Involvement in illegal activities such as drug trafficking, extortion, robbery, and theft offered the promise of financial gain and social prestige for those willing to take risks.

Peer influence and social dynamics played a significant role in the recruitment and retention of gang members. Many young people joined gangs out of a desire for acceptance, belonging, and recognition from their peers.

Gangs offered a sense of family and camaraderie that filled voids left by absent or dysfunctional family structures.

Gangs often adopted symbols, colors, and rituals that reflected their Mexican heritage and cultural identity. These symbols served as markers of group identity and solidarity, reinforcing bonds among members and distinguishing them from rival gangs.

Gang culture became intertwined with expressions of Mexican pride and resistance against perceived injustices.

As gangs proliferated and competition for territory and resources intensified, conflicts between rival groups escalated.

Violence became a defining feature of gang culture, with disputes over turf, respect, and honor often leading to retaliatory attacks, feuds, and cycles of violence within and between gangs.

These feuds will determine who remained king over the Barrios!

Evolution of the Gangs

As Mexican-American communities grew and urbanized during the mid-20th century, so did the influence and presence of gangs within these neighborhoods. Increasing population density, urban sprawl, and migration from rural to urban areas created fertile ground for the expansion of gang activity.

Migration patterns within the United States also played a significant role in the spread of Mexican-American gangs. As people moved from one region to another in search of better opportunities or to escape economic hardship, they brought with them the cultural norms, social networks, and gang affiliations established in their home communities.

The expansion of Mexican-American gangs was further facilitated by transnational connections and networks linking communities in the United States with counterparts in Mexico and other countries. Many gang members maintained ties to their ancestral homelands, and some gangs established branches or alliances with criminal organizations operating across international borders.

The incarceration of gang members led to the formation of prison-based gangs, such as the Mexican Mafia (La Eme) and the Nuestra Familia, which wielded significant influence both behind bars and on the streets. These prison gangs served as incubators for criminal enterprises, recruitment, and the dissemination of gang culture and ideology among members.

Drug Wars

Mexican-American gangs became increasingly involved in the illegal drug trade, particularly in the trafficking of narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana. The lucrative nature of the drug trade provided gangs with substantial profits and enhanced their power and influence within the criminal underworld.

Gangs competed for control over lucrative drug markets, territories, and criminal enterprises, leading to violent conflicts and turf wars between rival groups. The proliferation of firearms and the escalation of violence fueled a cycle of retaliation, intimidation, and insecurity within affected communities.

In addition to drug trafficking, Mexican-American gangs diversified their criminal activities to include extortion, human trafficking, money laundering, weapons smuggling, and other illicit enterprises. Gangs exploited vulnerabilities in the legal and financial systems to expand their operations and evade law enforcement detection.

Mexican-American gangs adapted to law enforcement tactics and strategies by decentralizing their operations, employing sophisticated communication networks, and adopting counter-surveillance measures to evade detection and prosecution. Gang members also used social media and technology to coordinate criminal activities and recruit new members.

Cartel Association

Mexican-American gangs in the United States are connected to Mexican drug cartels in several ways, primarily through the trafficking of narcotics and other criminal activities.

Mexican-American gangs often serve as distribution networks for Mexican drug cartels operating in the United States. They transport, distribute, and sell illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana on behalf of the cartels. This relationship allows the cartels to expand their reach into local markets and maximize profits.

Gangs play a crucial role in the supply chain of the drug trade, working closely with cartel operatives to facilitate the movement of narcotics across the U.S.-Mexico border. They may use their knowledge of local smuggling routes, transportation networks, and distribution channels to smuggle drugs into the United States and distribute them to customers.

Mexican-American gangs assist cartels in laundering proceeds from drug sales and other criminal activities. They may operate businesses such as restaurants, nightclubs, or car washes as fronts for money laundering operations, helping to conceal the illicit origins of funds and integrate them into the legitimate economy.

Mexican-American gangs may carry out enforcement and intimidation tactics on behalf of cartels to protect their interests and maintain control over drug territories. This can include acts of violence, extortion, and intimidation against rival gangs, informants, or individuals perceived as threats to cartel operations.

Some Mexican-American gangs engage in arms trafficking, supplying weapons and ammunition to cartel operatives in Mexico to support their operations. This can include the smuggling of firearms purchased illegally in the United States or stolen from legitimate sources.

Cartels may hire Mexican-American gangs to carry out specific tasks or “contract work” on their behalf, such as kidnappings, assassinations, or other acts of violence. Gang members may be recruited as hitmen or enforcers to eliminate rivals or intimidate adversaries.

Mexican-American gangs may form alliances or partnerships with specific cartels based on mutual interests, shared territories, or family connections. These alliances allow gangs to access the resources, expertise, and protection provided by the cartels, while cartels benefit from the local knowledge and operational capabilities of the gangs.

Impact in Todays World

Mexican gangs today wield significant influence globally through drug trafficking, violence, and transnational crime. They undermine governance, perpetuate corruption, and violate human rights, leading to forced migration and economic disruption. Addressing their impact requires coordinated efforts to strengthen rule of law, promote social inclusion, and tackle root causes driving gang involvement and criminal behavior.

List of Gangs

Here is a list of some mexican gangs in the US

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