Illegaldrug trafficking market has risen to be one of the most profitablemarkets in the world. Therefore it has attracted the world’s mostnotorious drug lords into the United States in a bid to enjoy thevast markets available in the US. These movements are made successfuldue to the large numbers of people who travel to and out of theUnited States annually. Therefore this massive movement of people andgoods makes it easy for the drug traffickers to conceal theiractivities and distribute illegal drugs into the United Stateswithout being noticed by the United States government (Howell, 2015).With this vast market, some groups have risen in the United Statesand its neighboring countries like Mexico with all of them trying totake the United States market.
Thesecriminal groups have been smuggling the illegal drug into the UnitedStates since the 1960s across the southwest border. One of thesegroups that have taken root in drug trafficking in the United Statesis the 18th streetgang that has been operating since the 1960s (Howell, 2015).Therefore the aim of this paper is to analyze the origin of the 18thstreet gang, its structure, supply, organization, distribution routesand methods, customer’s base, violence trends, drugs of choice, andits relationship with terrorist activities and other organized crimesin the United States
Duringthe 50s, some gangs sprout out in the streets of the United States.The 18thstreet was one of those gangs that grew in the Pico-union area in LosAngeles when the members of the already existing group, Clanton 14thStreet, resolved to make a new group. From there the 18thStreet was born, and it operated under the greater Clanton (Murch,2015).
.As membership increased, the Clanton 18thStreet was formed with an aim to expand its territories. But theformation of this new click sparked different feelings among themembers of the old faction. Others felt that the formation of thisnew click will create division rather that increase the market sizeof the first Clanton.
Withthis division, other members stayed with the already establishedClanton, but rocky Glover and some other members decided to drop theClanton off their name and called themselves the 18thstreet. A rivalry developed within the two groups, and finally, theClanton lost its strength and consequently the Pico-Union area(Murch, 2015).Through this small act, the 18thStreet gang was born in Los Angeles and has lost to be the mostnotorious gang in Los Angeles.
The18thstreet gang is estimated to hold at least 15000 members in the countyof Los Angeles consisting of more than 20 separate groups operatingunder the same label in different places in Los Angeles. The commonBarros includes San Gabriel Valley, the San Fernando Valley,Pico-Union, South Bay, Downtown Los Angeles and Cudahy. Theindividual groups consist of at least 50 members and sometimes toseveral hundred that are strategically dispersed throughout LosAngeles (Ratcliffe, 2016). The cliques operating throughout thesouthern California are those members who have migrated from LosAngeles and have established their cliques.
Theorganization of the 18thStreet Gang is based on a strong code of conduct based on theirself-made rules. In case one fails to obey those rules or behaves ina way that is unethical to the gang, he or she must face a punishmentthat is mostly an 18-second beating or sometimes in more seriousoffenses he or she may be executed. Throughout time, the group hasdeveloped a high level of sophistication and organization that hasmade it harder for the authorities to contain them. The 18thstreet members often identify each other by using symbols that theyonly understand their meaning. For example, the number 18 on theirclothing commonly used in sporting clothes. Other symbols like XV3,666 and three dots in one`s graffiti are also used to identifymembers of the 18thstreet gang (Ratcliffe, 2016). The members also are tattooed withcertain patterns that are o only distinct to the gang. In most cases,the tattoos cover the entire face.
Overthe last few years, the drug cartels have expanded their operationsin the United States with the help of the Mexican expansion into thecountry. For instance, the Mexican groups have taken root in LosAngeles and increased the regional command and control. Thereforewith this development of sophisticated techniques of supplying ofillicit drugs, they have gained significant control of illegal drugsin the major markets in the United States. The Mexican groups likethe 18thstreet who are based in Los Angeles are responsible for theproduction of methamphetamine in the sparsely populated forest ofAngeles Cleveland and San Bernardino (Ratcliffe, 2016)
Otherthan the locally manufactured drugs, other drugs such as cocaine getway into the country through the busy ports or even the airportsunrecognized. The gangs have established strong, reliable routesthrough time and thus can partner with the Mexican and Colombiancartels in distributing the drugs (Ratcliffe, 2016). The Mexicangroups mostly based in Los Angeles involve mostly the 18thstreet gang that has developed a network all over the country thusbeing able to supply the drugs to their target markets unnoticed bythe authorities.
Inaddition to the highly developed network, the gangs also employ verystrict rules among their members and associate a factor that ensuresloyalty and limits the possibility of mistakes in their operation.Thus with such laws, it is difficult for the government to extractany information from those members who are arrested because thepunishment imposed by the cartels is far much worse than facing thelaw (Herbert, 2013). Other than that, the members who are involved indrug trafficking and distribution are mostly family members or closefriends who are loyal to each other. This further reduces thepossibility of the government cracking the drug cartels.
The18thstreet gang mostly recruits young teens to help in vending theirdrugs. Therefore most of their customers are adolescents and youngadults who are either friend of their members or are members of thegang. Over time the 18thstreet gang has established a strong customer base among the youngpeople of Los Angeles. Methamphetamine is the most common drugtrafficked by the 18thstreet gang. This may be due to its easy availability since theymanufacture it in Los Angeles (Herbert, 2013). Other than itsavailability, the distribution of the drug does not involve so manychains that may expose the gang’s activities. The 18thstreet has been linked to some crimes in the city of Los Angeles.Almost all street and gun violence in Los Angeles are undertaken bytheir members. Also, the conflicts that exist between the 18thstreet and other gangs on the streets of Los Angeles increase theoccurrence of crime and gun violence in the streets of Los Angeles(Herbert, 2013).
.Other than the streets of Los Angeles, the 18thstreet group is involved in crimes out of the city and the county.These crimes can be linked to terrorist activities where the gangmembers are used as freelancers in perpetrating crime. The 18thstreet organization is said to be linked to the South American druglords and terrorist groups. Therefore the 18thstreet helps smuggle terrorists into the country who are later usedby their bosses to perform terrorist activities in the country. Also,the 18thstreet gang is associated with unauthorized gun ownership andtherefore a possible threat to the security of the US citizens(Ratcliffe, 2016). Sometimes with the help of the already developedterrorist groups, the 18thstreet gang undertakes organized crimes that are meant to force thegovernment into doing something that it is not willing to.
Conclusively,drug trafficking is rising at an alarming rate in the United States.Gang groups like the 18thstreet are the vendors of such narcotics. With the help of theMexican and Colombian drug cartels, the American gangs have takenroot and grown to almost every state in the United States. The mostpeople who are affected by addiction are adolescents and young adultswho are recruited by the gangs or are right markets for the drugs.Other than drug trafficking, sometimes the gangs are involved in gunviolence in the American streets. Organized crimes also areundertaken by the gang groups with the gang groups for personalbenefit or revenge. Terrorists also use the domestic gangs toundertake terrorist activities since it is hard for them to becleared through the border.
Herbert,S. (2013). Book review: Susan A Phillips, Operation Fly Trap: LAGangs, Drugs, and the Law and Elana Zilberg, Space of Detention: TheMaking of a Transnational Gang Crisis between Los Angeles and SanSalvador.
Howell,J. C. (2015). Thehistory of street gangs in the United States: their origins andtransformations.Lexington Books.
Murch,D. (2015). Crack in Los Angeles: crisis, militarization, and blackresponse to the late twentieth-century war on drugs. Journalof American History, 102(1),162-173
Ratcliffe,J. H. (2016). Central American police perception of street gangcharacteristics. Policingand Society, 26(3),291-311.