Marielitos (gangs)

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Marielitos
Founded 1980's
Founding location USA
Years active 1980s-present
Ethnicity Cuban
Criminal activities Drug trafficking, Arms trafficking, Illegal gambling, Contract killing
Allies American Mafia, Colombian cartels

Marielitos is the name given to criminal groups that consist of Cuban-Americans, more specifically the descendants of the Cubans that emigrated to the USA during the infamous Mariel boatlift.[1]

History[edit]

While there already was -largely successful- Cuban emigration to the USA before the 80's, the third and most well-known wave of Cuban emigration was in 1980. The Cuban government permitted some 125.000 Cubans to board an impoverished fleet of boats in Mariel Harbor. However, it was estimated that this last wave of Cuban refugees included some 2.700 hardened criminals.[2]

Membership[edit]

Marielito crime gangs consist of generally male Cubans. Many of the original Marielitos have specific tattoos, displaying patron saints, names, words or arcane symbols. Marielito gang members, White as well as Afro-Cubans, are members of Afro Cuban religious cults engaged in religious rituals often resulting in self-inflicted bodily scars.[3] While the original Marielito gang members came to the USA in the 80s, younger Cuban-Americans living in impoverished neighborhoods may imitate the rituals of the original Marielito criminals.

Activities[edit]

Marielito crime groups are mostly involved in drug trafficking and contract killing, although prostitution, extortion, robbery, burglary, auto theft, counterfeiting and bookmaking are also activities of choice.[4] In some cases they have aligned themselves with American Mafia families and Colombian cartels to set up drug pipelines and working for them as enforcers. Marielito gang activity isn't as endemic as it was in the 80's, but Marielito gangs are still active in Los Angeles, Washington and New York (especially the South Bronx).[5]

References[edit]