Public Enemy No. 1 (street gang)
|Founding location||Long Beach, California|
|Territory||California, Victoria, Arizona, Idaho and Nevada|
|Criminal activities||Drug trafficking, arms trafficking, identity theft, murder, dog fighting,|
|Allies||Aryan Brotherhood, Nazi Lowriders, Mexican Mafia, Ku Klux Klan|
|Rivals||Crips, Bloods, Norteños, Nuestra Familia, Black Guerilla Family, Jewish Defense League, Friends Stand United, Los Angeles crime family|
Public Enemy No. 1 (abbreviated as PEN1) is a white supremacist street gang based in Southern California, USA. The California Department of Justice in 2004 described it as “one of the most powerful and fastest-growing gangs inside and outside prison” and said it had about 200 members statewide. Its main activities include identity theft, credit card fraud and methamphetamine sales.
The gang started as "Peni Death Squad (PDS), a punk gang in the 1980s, the name being derived from the anarcho-punk/deathrock band, 'Rudimentary Peni'. Originally, PDS was mainly a loose-knit group of suburban teens, runaways and homeless youngsters. Other examples of Southern California hardcore punk gangs included La Mirada punks, Vicious Circle, The HB's, FFF (Fight For Freedom), The West Side Suicidals, L.A. Death Squad (L.A.D.S.), Circle One, and Bakersfield's Zero-Core. These groups were typically made up of suburban counter-culture teenagers, skaters, surfers, etc.
The formation of the group was greatly influenced by members in the hardcore punk rock scene in Long Beach, California during the 1980s. However, by the 1990s, PEN1’s base of operations had partially been relocated to Orange County where they began recruiting suburban adolescents. By the 2000s, the gang’s influence has spread throughout California and Arizona, with some members in Idaho and Nevada. They have ties to the prison gangs Aryan Brotherhood and Nazi Lowriders. Their main rivals are the Bloods, Crips, the Norteños, Nuestra Familia, Black Guerilla Family.
PEN1 is heavily involved in identity theft, not a crime usually associated with gangs; most of the income from this is allegedly used to finance methamphetamine sale and other operations. Originally they did this by raiding mailboxes and trash cans for personal information, but the gang later used contacts inside of banks, mortgage companies and state motor vehicle departments in order to gain access to credit profiles. This has led to law enforcement officials requesting that their personal information be removed so that it can't be used by gang members to identify home addresses of police officers.
Hostility towards law enforcement
In 2007, police forces in Orange County arrested 67 alleged PEN1 members after learning of an extensive "hit list" that included five police officers and a gang prosecutor. Those arrested in the raid were charged with conspiracy to commit murder, possession of illegal weapons and identity theft.
- "Racist gang caught in sting kept a list of Orange County police targets", San Diego Union-Tribune, December 17, 2006
- "Hit list led to wave of O.C. arrests", Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2006
- "Alliance adds to gang's clout: Public Enemy No. 1 more brazen since teaming with Aryan Brotherhood", Associated Press, cited by San Diego Union-Tribune, March 4, 2007