Globalization of 18th Street Gangs Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1701 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … transnational-nature of the 18th Street gang. Strictly speaking, for a gang to be classified as transnational, the gang has to have its presence in more than one country. This essay will explore the reasons due to which this gang finds sympathizers and members in different countries. And though this gang originated in the barrios, traditional Latino strongholds of Los Angeles, it has also expanded within the United States. There is evidence that the 18th Street Latino gangs have their presence in about 37 states in the United States, and more than 42 countries, most of them in Central America. (Alonso, 2002) it will be argued here that the motivation to spread out and seek to establish roots in other places is because of the very nature of this gang and because of the history of its inception. There are widespread consequences for the transnational nature of this gang. This essay will show that some of the transnationalism also comes from trans-culturalism. This gang finds acceptance among different races and cultures. In this decade, the fear of terrorism has loomed large in the minds of the American people. This gang, one fears, might play an important role in being a pathway for terrorism in this country.

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TOPIC: Term Paper on Globalization of 18th Street Gangs Assignment

The United States of America is a nation that was founded by immigrants. Until relatively recently, in the past few decades, there have been virtually no bars to immigration into this country and assimilation into its culture. Naturally, those with criminal tendencies will also be able to come to the American shores. Over the last century, the character of immigrants, both legal and illegal, has changed from being Eurocentric (especially after World War II), to Asian centric after the wars in Korea and Vietnam, to the influx of professionals from countries all over the world, to the present Latino immigration, which is, in large part, illegal. It is important to mention this, because the transnational nature of the 18th Street gang is closely associated with illegal immigration from Mexico.

Latino gangs that have now increasingly come under law enforcement and Congressional scrutiny are not the only transnational gangs. The Mafia was established as a grassroots organization by the citizens of Sicily against the problems that Mussolini created around the time of World War II. From the time of its entry into the United States in the early to mid-twentieth century, the Mafia had a large role to play in the criminal enterprises of the East Coast of the United States for almost five decades. (Friedman, 2000)

The difference is that Latino gangs in the United States like the 18th Street gang, otherwise known as M-18, the Clanton 14 gang (which preceded the M-18) (Valdemar, 2007) and the later M-13 all originated in the Los Angeles and spread to other countries from the United States.

But there is a fundamental difference between the Latino gangs and other ethnic gangs like some of the African-American gangs. Black gangs from Los Angeles like the Bloods and the Crips, originated in the United States, and perhaps because of the racial nature of these gangs have not been able to travel far into other countries, and have not had a following outside of the immediate locales. It is important to note while considering the local nature of the African-American gangs. They do not lend themselves to a transnational nature because potential members typically are from the United States -- and do not trace their origins to Africa. It is likely that members with African or Caribbean origins might become members after coming to the United States, but black members to not emigrate to other countries.

A question that provides a clue as to why the Latino gangs are transnational and the African gangs are not will provide an important clue as to the mechanism of transnationalism for the Latino gangs.

Latino Transnational Gangs

Currently, the FBI and local law enforcement officials recognize two Latino gangs, both based in Los Angeles, to be transnational gangs: the 18th Street gang, otherwise known as the M-18 gang and the Mara Salvatrucha or the MS-13 gang. (Valdez, 2000) 18th Street insignia have been found even in Canada.

18th Street Gang -- Precedence for Transnationalism

The 18th Street gang members are associated with crimes that range from protection-tax collection or extortion, murder, prostitution rings, carjacking, kidnapping and rape. As their reach has increased across state boundaries, major traffic arteries, roadways and freeway corridors are used for their activity. (SonofItaly, 2008) and there's no allegiance to a leader of "made" member. Even middle school children are pushed into membership, sometimes against their wills, and eventually undergo initiation. This ensures the next generation of gangsters, increasing the membership and keeping the gang going.

This level of openness towards membership has a historical precedence. This gang originated in the 1960s because an older gang, Clanton 14, which consisted of Mexicans and Caucasians who were already established in Los Angeles refused to accept the newly arrived Mexicans. These newly arrived, illegal immigrants, feeling ostracized and with language and cultural barriers to assimilation, banded together to form the 18th Street gang. They retain the character of outsiders, which makes them easier to accept outsiders -- even from other races.

18th Street Gang as Transnational

In the late 1990s and in the current decade, the problem of illegal immigration became part of the national debate. This is because the immigrant influx per year was in the millions. The U.S. government did not have the resources to patrol the borders along Texas, Arizona and California, that it shares with Mexico. The strain on the local economies of border towns and states began to tell because of on-demand services of health, jobs and economics by illegal immigrants. With ramped up efforts to stem the tide of illegal immigration, when members of the 18th Street gang were arrested, and if they were identified as illegal immigrants, they were deported back to Mexico. This resulted in a reverse influx of gang members back into Mexico and other Latin American nations. (Franco, 2008) While certainly there are criminals in this nation, the deported gang members found that they while they could not reverse-assimilate from where they came, they found a willing audience and recourse to gangs. They brought to Mexico and Central American countries the organizational skills to create criminal syndicates. Since they espoused fealty to the 18th Street Gang, they stayed true to its identify, bringing new members in with the same initiation rites that took place in the United States.

These efforts found willing members among the disaffected and disenfranchised youth of these poor countries. Having no education or a means to obtain employment, it was easy for them to join these gangs. The spread of the 18th Street gang was thus facilitated. Deported gang members, could also travel within Central American countries more easily than they could come back to the United States. Because of the dispersed nature of the 18th Street gang, members could hoard large amounts of weapons of different calibers and these could not be detected. The newly created gangs-cliques in Mexico could procure different kinds of weapons because they had gained the requisite experience in the United States. This gave them more power and enabled these franchises to spread wide. This however, is not a concern of law enforcement, because they see it as another gang member that is taken off the streets in the United States.

Another aspect that helped the transnational stature of the 18th Street gangs was that they branched out into, providing illegal visas for illegal immigrants. They also facilitated the work done by coyotes, people who help would be immigrants cross the desert area into the United States. This gave the gang unprecedented access to smuggling routes whereby an easy flow of gang members and arms back and forth between the United States and Mexico was maintained. In fact, many of the deported gang members were able to come back to the United States in order to facilitate the smuggling. They were re-deported when caught. And they continued gang activities of the 18th Street gang, no matter in which country they lived. (Franco, 2008)


One would surmise that illegal immigration and deportation of gang members is the key mechanism by which the 18th Street gang has become a global gang. They use the man power of Mexico and Central American countries with the organizational know how and access to weapons of the United States to build their gang. Since gang-activity, even when this gang has strongholds in different parts of the United States, does not affect a large part of the population, one of the fears is that they might facilitate global terrorism. The first reason is the loose membership policies that accepts Middle Eastern members. Secondly, this gang has taken over the smuggling of humans across the U.S.-Mexican border. It is possible that the right incentive might motivate the 18th Street gang… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Globalization of 18th Street Gangs" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Globalization of 18th Street Gangs.  (2008, May 13).  Retrieved August 4, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Globalization of 18th Street Gangs."  13 May 2008.  Web.  4 August 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Globalization of 18th Street Gangs."  May 13, 2008.  Accessed August 4, 2021.