Gang population

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Reports on the number of people involved in criminal gangs, by locale.

Mara Salvatrucha suspect bearing gang tattoos is handcuffed then beaten. In 2004, the FBI created the MS-13 National Gang Task Force to combat gang activity in the United States. A year later, the FBI helped create National Gang Intelligence Center.

United States[edit]

There were at least 30,000 gangs and 800,000 gang members active across the USA in 2007.[1][2] About 900,000 gang members lived "within local communities across the country," and about 147,000 were in U.S. prisons or jails in 2009.[3] By 1999, Hispanics accounted for 47% of all gang members, Blacks 31%, Whites 13%, and Asians 6%.[4]

The Latin Kings have organized chapters in over 41 US states, most notably Illinois, and several Latin American and European countries, including: Mexico, Spain, Dominican Republic, Canada, Italy, Ecuador, Peru, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Brazil, United Kingdom and others.[5][6]


The Chicago Crime Commission publication "The Gang Book 2012" gave the statistic that Chicago has more gang members than any other city in the United States: 150,000.[7] The city had 532 murders in 2012, however, it saw a decrease to 413 murders in 2013. Not all murders are gang-related, but the Chicago Police Department states that 80% of all shootings and murders in the city are gang-related, which means that most violence in the city is gang upon gang violence.

Los Angeles[edit]

Los Angeles has held the nickname "gang capital America" since 1930 because approximately 120,000 gang members reside in the city, and tens of thousands more in surrounding Los Angeles County.[8]

Latin America[edit]

There are between 25,000 and 50,000 gang members in Central America’s El Salvador.[9]

The Mexican drug cartels have as many as 100,000 foot soldiers, many of them in the Los Angeles area.[10]


The Yakuza are among the largest organized crime organizations in the world. In Japan, as of 2005, there are some 86,300 known members.[11]

Hong Kong's Triads include up to 160,000 members in the 21st century. It was estimated that in the 1950s, there were 300,000 Triad members in Hong Kong.[12] The Chinese government claims that police have eliminated 1,221 triad-style gangs across China since a crackdown was launched in 2006. More than 87,300 suspects have been arrested.[13]


The FBI estimates the size of the four Italian organized crime groups to be approximately 25,000 members and 250,000 affiliates worldwide.[14]

See also[edit]

By country:


  1. ^ COPS Office: Gangs
  2. ^ L.A. Gangs: Nine Miles and Spreading Archived 2008-04-16 at the Wayback Machine.. December 13, 2007.
  3. ^ Report: Gang yo what up membership on the rise across U.S., by Kevin Johnson, USA Today, January 30, 2009
  4. ^ Into the Abyss: The Racial and Ethnic Composition of Gangs
  5. ^ Karen L. Kinnear. Gangs: a reference handbook. ABC-CLIO.
  6. ^ [1] Archived November 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Gang mayhem grips LA, The Observer, March 18, 2007
  9. ^ El Salvador's teenage beauty queens live and die by gang law, The Observer, November 10, 2002
  10. ^ 100,000 foot soldiers in Mexican cartels, Washington Times, March 3, 2009.
  11. ^ Criminal Investigation: Fight Against Organized Crime (1)[permanent dead link], Overview of Japanese Police, National Police Agency (June 2007).
  12. ^ Hong Kong's T-Shirt Contest. TIME. November 28, 2007.
  13. ^ Police chief and businessmen arrested in triad crackdown. Times Online. August 14, 2009.
  14. ^ Italian Organized Crime—Overview Archived October 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine..

Further reading[edit]

  • Frederick Thrasher, The Gang: A Study of 1,313 Gangs in Chicago, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1927 ASIN: B000IZWOBA
  • Varrio Warfare: Violence in the Latino Community, Gabriel C. Morales, 1998 ASIN: B0018HRNHM
  • Roberson, Cliff. "Exploring Juvenile Justice", California: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning, 2000 ISBN 978-1-928916-09-3
  • Daniels, Peggy. ed. "Gangs", Michigan: The Gale Group, 2008