Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

The 10 Most Dangerous Gangs of the 21st Century

Gangs have been terrorizing communities and fighting for turf for as long as street crime has been around. Today’s gangs have evolved into more powerful and sophisticated groups that will do just about anything and kill just about anyone for a quick buck. According to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, there are approximately 1.4 million gang members roaming the streets and operating in prisons in the United States. Out of the tens of thousands of gangs in the world, these 10 have caused the most danger in the 21st century.

  1. The Latin Kings

    The Latin Kings is one of the largest and most dangerous Latino street gangs in the country. The Latin Kings formed in Chicago during the 1940s and have grown exponentially through the years. The Latin Kings’ chapters operate in at least 31 states, 158 cities, and have spread to all of Latin America, Spain, and other parts of Europe. Today, the Kings are as violent and ruthless as ever — many of the leaders and members have been indicted for mass murders, million-dollar drug trafficking operations, and federal weapons charges.

  2. Trinitarios

    The Trinitarios are a New York-based Hispanic gang that was established in the state prison system during the early ’90s. The Trinitarios are the fastest growing gang in the New York/New Jersey area, and their operations have extended to at least 10 other states, in addition to Spain and the Dominican Republic. The Trinitarios, also called Trinitarians, are involved in a range of street crime, including racketeering, gun trafficking, narcotics, and robberies. Unlike most large gangs, the Trinitarios are not affiliated with other gangs and its rival gangs include the Bloods, Crips, the Latin Kings, and Dominicans Don’t Play.

  3. The New Dons

    The New Dons, also known as Goodfellas and One Twenty-Nine, is a dangerous street gang that operates around West 129th Street in the Harlem neighborhood of New York. The gang is known for their wide collection of firearms, which they use to intimidate rivals. In November 2011, 19 of the New Dons members were arrested and charged with conspiracy, and some were charged with weapons possession, firearms trafficking, and attempted murder.

  4. MS-13

    MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) is arguably one of the deadliest and most powerful gangs in the country. MS-13 has one of the largest memberships nationwide with operations in at least 42 states and the District of Columbia. MS-13 members mostly consist of Salvadorans or first generation Salvadoran-Americans, as well as Hondurans, Guatemalans, Mexicans, and other Central and South American immigrants. The gang has a reputation for committing extremely violent crimes, using a wide range of weapons and intimidation tactics.

  5. Aryan Brotherhood

    The Aryan Brotherhood gang has been committing heinous crimes inside federal prisons for more than 40 years, but the gang has gained an even bigger and more dangerous presence during the 21st century. The Aryan Brotherhood began as a hate group/gang that targeted and often murdered non-white prisoners, but has since shifted its focus to crimes that are not solely motivated by race. Today, the Aryan Brotherhood has more than 15,000 members throughout the U.S., and its criminal activity ranges from murder, narcotics trafficking, and extortion to gambling, robbery, and intimidation.

  1. Wave Gang and Hood Starz

    The Wave Gang and their rivals, the Hood Starz, have been terrorizing the neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn for years. Both gangs have been involved in a number of murders, assaults, robberies, and other illegal activity. A total of 43 members from each gang were recently arrested and indicted after bragging on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube about a deadly shooting that killed three people and injured several others.

  2. Insane M.O.B. (Money Over Bitches)

    Insane M.O.B. (aka Money Over Bitches) is a modern-day gang that is allied with a group of Chicago gangs called "Folk Nation." In October 2010, 29 members of Insane M.O.B. were arrested in Orange County, Fla., for their involvement in homicides, murder-for-hire plots, drug trafficking, arson, gun sales, and other criminal activity within the area.

  3. The Red Scorpions

    The Red Scorpions is a violent drug-trafficking gang based in British Columbia, Canada. The gang was allegedly formed by Quang Vinh Le in 2000, while he was incarcerated at a Vancouver detention center. The Red Scorpions come from different multicultural backgrounds and are identified by the "RS" tattoos on their neck, shoulders, and wrists. Since their formation, the Scorpions have been involved in a large cocaine trafficking operation and many homicides, including the slaughtering of six people in 2008.

  4. 18th Street gang

    The 18th Street gang is a Los Angeles-based street gang that has become one of the largest and most ruthless organizations in the country and possibly in the world. The Latino gang is considered to be the largest street gang in LA, and its members can be found in 37 states, as well as Mexico and Central America. The violent gang has been around for decades, but its growing membership and generations of gang leaders have kept it alive and strong. The 18th Street gang is involved in all areas of street crimes and has been linked to more than 250 homicides in Los Angeles over the last 10 years.

  5. Mexican Mafia

    The Mexican Mafia is one of the oldest and most dominant prison gangs in the country. The violent gang formed in California’s prisons in the late ’50s and has since expanded to federal prison systems in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. The Mexican Mafia is involved in a number of criminal activities inside and outside of prison, such as murder, extortion, drug trafficking, and has had a longstanding rivalry with the Black Guerilla Family. The group reigns over almost every Chicano gang in Southern California and they are obligated to carry out all orders from the Mexican Mafia or risk the chance of being murdered.