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. 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]

Further information: Gangs in the United States

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 of 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.[12] It was estimated that in the 1950s, there were 300,000 Triad members in Hong Kong.[13] 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.[14]


The FBI estimates the size of the four Italian organized crime groups to be approximately 25,000 members and 250,000 affiliates worldwide.[15]

See also[edit]

By country:


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