12 Gangs That Are Keeping The FBI Awake At Night

America may be getting safer, but gangs are expanding and becoming more violent, posing a growing threat across the country, according to a 2011 FBI report.

An estimated 1.4 million Americans belong to 33,000 gangs, and together they are responsible for 48% of violent crime in the country.

Following up on a 2012 article, we have profiled 12 of the gangs mentioned in the report and noted their recent activity.

The 18th Street gang is a huge transnational gang in Los Angeles.

One of the most well-known of the 'Sureño' gangs in Southern California, the 18th Street Gang is a violent enterprise that was linked last year to a large methamphetamine ring.

The gang is one of the most rapidly expanding criminal groups in the country, with a reach that extends across 32 states, from Maryland to Hawaii.

18th Street gangsters have been linked to homicide, extortion, alien smuggling, drug smuggling, auto theft, and running massive document mills in New York City. These 'mills' paper the streets with fraudulent government identification allowing anyone to gain fresh lines of credit, government benefits, and driver licenses.

Florencia 13 nearly turned Los Angeles into a war zone.

Inmate Arturo Castellanos, pictured here, was accused of running the Florencia 13 gang from prison.

Florencia 13 works closely with the Mexican Mafia and is a rival of the 18th Street gang. Florencia 13 is part of a terrifying gang war scene in Los Angeles, and it also has influence in more rural states like Virginia and Iowa.

Gang members have been charged with offenses ranging from piracy to conspiracy to selling drugs to murder. In August, three dozen members of Florencia 13 were indicted for racketeering and drugs. At the time, the Los Angeles Times reported that the gang allegedly 'controls swaths of Los Angeles County' and had outposts there for drug-dealing and illegal gambling.

Barrio Azteca's violence comes straight from the Mexican cartels.

Originally based out of El Paso, Texas, Los Aztecas are a powerful paramilitary force on both sides of the Mexican border. Many of the gang's members are recruited from Texas prisons, with some of the organisation's most notorious activity taking place inside prison walls.

Los Aztecas work with the Juarez and Los Zetas cartels running drugs and smuggling illegal aliens; gang members also allegedly murdered consulate officials. The gang has a military-like structure that has helped keep rigid order.

In March 2011, 35 members of the gang were charged with a variety of crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Consulate employee and several family members.

That trial was still underway in February 2014.

The Almighty Latin King Nation preys on damaged children to fill its ranks.

Formed in Chicago in the '40s, the Almighty Latin King Nation (ALKN) has a strictly organised structure and is one of the biggest Hispanic gangs in the U.S. The gang's influence stretches to 34 states, with an estimated 18,000 members in Chicago alone.

Although the gang is splintered into the original Chicago clique and an east coast set, all members identify as Latin Kings. Members subscribe to the group's religious aesthetic, which calls for the eventual rebirth of a member as a New King, enlightened and ready to serve the downtrodden peoples of the world.

In February, the Times of Northwest Indiana reported on a former ALKN member who says that he and his former gang members were nothing more than terrorists:

'(We are) a terrorist organisation looking to make your child a domestic terrorist.

'Gangs will teach your children how to use guns, clean them, take them apart and reassemble them. With them, your child will even learn how to make bombs; invade and rob homes; how to injure and/or kill someone using different methods; and make, smuggle and sell drugs.'

Fears of a Somali gang war are plaguing Minnesota.

Somali gangs have cropped up in many U.S. cities, including Seattle, San Diego, and Minneapolis, which has a history of welcoming Somali refugees.

While some Somali immigrants adopt Blood or Crip membership, separate Somali gangs are becoming more prevalent across the country. They often experience tension with other African-American gangs, such as groups comprised of Ethiopian refugees.

Somali gangs have been involved in alien smuggling, human trafficking, credit card fraud, prostitution, and violent crime. Minneapolis continues to have problem with Somali gangs. Over the summer, a number of shootings aimed at Somalis sparked fears of a gang war in the Somali community in Minnesota.

The Trinitarios are recruiting American kids straight from school.

Manhattan's U.S. attorney shows the press murders allegedly committed by Trinitarios.

Formed in New York's prison system in the 1980s, the ultra-violent Trinitarios quickly spread to the city's streets as inmates did their time and brought home new and deadly skills. Its influence is now felt in all five boroughs of New York City and in at least 10 states.

The predominantly Dominican gang holds deadly rivalries with Bloods, Crips, and Dominicans Don't Play (DDP). It is also renowned for recruiting in high schools throughout New York and New Jersey. In December 2012, dozens of alleged Trinitarios in the Bronx were charged with 9 murders and 24 attempted murders.

The Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos, aka, 'the brotherhood of Latin gunmen,' dominates Texas's prisons and its streets.

Another prison gang, Pistoleros Latinos, was born in and now dominates Texas' correctional facilities. Outside prison, the Hispanic group owns the streets of Laredo, in the state's south, and has strong ties to Mexican drug-runners across the border.

Pistoleros Latinos is heavily organised with its own constitution, traditions, and life-long membership, often marked by life-size tattoos of handguns inked just above operatives' pants-lines.

The group's leader, Jesus Espinosa, is serving a life sentence for drug trafficking -- Hermanos Pistoleros is known to be a huge importer and seller of cocaine and marijuana. In December 2013, another of the gang's leaders was sent to prison after he was arrested as part of a drug investigation.

The gang has also been linked to armed burglaries, carjacking, prison gambling, protection rackets, inmate assaults, staff intimidation, and multiple murders.

The Mexican Mafia wields enormous power in California.

Most Latino gangsters incarcerated in southern California throw aside old rivalries behind bars and unite under the Mexican Mafia. On the streets, the gang's influence stretches far and wide. They are perhaps inspired by a complex manifesto locked-up gang leader Arturo Castellanos delivered to his gang in Los Angeles.

The Mexican Mafia was borne in a juvenile correctional facility in Tracy, Calif. in the 1950s but has extended its reach into Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Control is decentralized with hundreds of operatives in prisons throughout the U.S.

Each unit chief has the power to order followers to murder guards and other enemies. They also run the drug trade and various rackets within institutions.

Recently, two Los Angeles residents with alleged ties to the Mexican mafia claimed they were fighting in Syria alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.

The Mongols are an outlaw motorcycle gang with international reach.

Like many motorcycle gangs that band together to break the law, the Mongols proudly identify as 'one-per-centres.' This designation is a swipe at the American Motorcycle Association, which has claimed 99% of bike riders are law-abiding citizens.

In 2008, a three-year federal sting resulted in the arrest of 61 Mongols on offenses including racketeering, murder, drug trafficking and money laundering. More recently, a member of the Mongols got two life sentences for the murder of Mark 'Papa' Guardado, the president of the San Francisco chapter of Hells Angels.

Their weapons of choice include guns, knives, brass knuckles, lead pipes, and steel-toed boots. The Mongols have chapters in 8 countries, according to their official website.

The Vagos Motorcycle Club specialises in marijuana and methamphetamine sales.

Originally known as 'The Psychos,' the Vagos Motorcycle Club is a violent crime organisation active in California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Mexico.

With members who have served in the military, Vagos are notoriously ruthless with their enemies and have declared war on law enforcement.

The gang is known for producing and selling narcotics, assault, extortion, insurance fraud, money laundering, murder, vehicle theft, witness intimidation, and weapons violations. Last year, an undercover cop published his account of working as an informant to bust members of the gang with crimes as serious as murder.

Wheels of Soul is a biker gang that spans half the states.

The Wheels of Soul claims to be the largest mixed-race, national biker gang, with 400 members in 25 states. (Hells Angels, a much larger club, reportedly has no black members.)

The Wheels of Soul has suffered massive casualties through long prison terms guaranteed to keep members from ever seeing the light of day.

The Eastern Missouri U.S. District Attorney's Office claims to have broken the back of the St. Louis chapter of the club in 2012, convicting seven defendants of racketeering conspiracy and other crimes.

BONUS: The Juggalos deny being a gang, but the FBI takes them seriously.

Two members of the Insane Clown Posse, which sued the FBI.

In a controversial decision, the FBI officially listed the face-painted fans of the horrorcore rap group Insane Clown Posse -- known as Juggalos -- in its 2011 gang threat assessment. At the time, the FBI said the Juggalos had a loose structure and unclear motives.

Many Juggalos only engage in low-level crime, like simple drug possession and theft, the FBI acknowledged. But the FBI said in 2011 that it noticed increasingly gang-like behaviour, and that the Juggalos had committed more serious crimes '
such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales.'

Insane Clown Posse has fought back against the FBI's decision to label Juggalos gangsters. The group sued the agency in January, claiming the gang designation violated the Constitutional rights of Insane Clown Posse fans to express themselves. The Juggalos have also created a website, 'Juggalos Fight Back,' which opposed their designation as a violent gang.

Some gangs hold more power behind bars than on the outside.

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