The 18th Street Gang in Los Angeles

20080802-18thstreetms13

By Alex A. Alonso for StreetGangs.com
posted December 22, 2002 | updated June 25, 2008

LOS ANGELES – In Los Angeles the 18th Street gang is considered the largest gang in Los Angeles County but that label is very misleading. Even though they are estimated to have approximately 15,000 members in Los Angeles County, they are actually a collection of approximately 20 separate individual autonomous gangs operating under the same label with separate barrios in the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, the South Bay, South Los Angeles, Downtown Los Angeles, Pico Union, Inglewood, and Cudahy. Some estimates of the 18th are as low as 8,000 members. The notoriety of the gang is based on four distinct barrios, three near downtown Los Angeles west of the Staple’s Center and the 110 Freeway, and one in the West Adams area.

The individual factions can number from 50 to several hundred members and they are dispersed throughout the County, but their strong hold and their oldest barrio is located in the Pico Union (Grand View, Hoover clicks) area east of the Staples center between the Harbor 110 Freeway (east) and Hoover Ave (west). Slightly to the north are two other barrios in the Shatto Park and MacArthur Park (Colombia Lil Cycos click) areas. There are also two significant size 18th Street Barrios in South LA, one between Vernon (north) and Slauson (south) along Vermont Avenue and the second one being between Florence (north) and 91st Street (south). One of the most infamous 18th Street neighborhoods would be in the West Adams (Smiley, Alsace, Lil Lowks) because member Catorina Gonzales was convicted for killing LAPD officer Filbert Cuesta in 1998, and more recently, member Pedro Espinoza was charged in the murder of High School star athlete Jamiel Shaw stemming from the conflict with the Bloods.

The media often states that 18th Street is the largest gang in Los Angeles, but the largest single Hispanic gang in terms of turf size and membership would be one of 18th Street’s main rivals, the Florencia 13 gang that has a turf that stretches from Western (west) to Compton Avenues (east). Members of this gang were recently indicted by the Feds on drug trafficking and murder charges.

Historical Background

The 18th Street gang formed around 1959 in the Pico Union area when members of larger Clanton 14 neighborhood decided to start a new click. Originally 18th Street was a click of the bigger Clanton 14th Street neighborhood. As membership of Clanton grew, newer members who lived off of 18th Street decided to start Clanton 18th Street. Forming a new click of a gang can sometimes be a challenge, because some members may look at it as an action that does not unify but separates the neighborhood, and possibly creates division between members that will be forced to choose sides during a conflict. On the other hand, adding a click can expand the turf, bring in more members, and make the neighborhood appear to be stronger. There is usually a protocol to creating a new click and each neighborhood is different when it comes to that, but ultimately Clanton 14 core members did not approve of having Clanton 18, so the new click members had to make a decision of falling in line with Clanton 14, or taking a defiant position to start their own gang, hence the birth of 18th Street. They just simply dropped the Clanton off their name and then became rivals against them. As the years progressed, Clanton lost their main strong hold off 14th Street, and today that area is dominated by 18th Street.

Clanton did not disappear though as their neighborhood in Hollywood off Beverly has survived and their other neighborhood on the South Side near San Pedro is still thriving. Most gangs today have clicks and there is usually little resistance from the rest of the gang when members want to start a new click, because there is a perceived benefit to the entire gang as outsiders will assume the gang is growing, and it provides a psychological edge against their rivals. Through a small act of defiance, one of the most well known gangs was born in Los Angeles. Because of its aggressive recruiting techniques of accepting any all new comers the name of this gang has caught on and has been copied and mimicked in several other cities and countries around the world.

Global Reach: Real or Perceived?

Since its inception youth from every large city in the US, Canada, Mexico and countries in Central & South America America, Europe and most likely several other cities and countries have adapted the use of the name 18th Street. Because of the wide spread popularity, the FBI has labeled this gang a transnational gang with global reach, but there is no evidence to support the existence of any such global network in which the 18th Street gang operates between cities or across national borders. Because of deportation, the gang culture of LA was introduced into Mexico and Central America, but transnational linkages in which the 18th Street gang operate have not been uncovered thus far. A study from 2007 found that international connections among Hispanic gangs like 18th Street were over stated and that there were no signs of transnational coordination among gang members. Academic studies have also fell short from identifying these types of networks among Los Angeles based Hispanic gangs.

The typical propaganda from law enforcement is designed to stigmatize the gang by over exaggerating the extent to which the gang operates. Phrases like “violent foreign-born gang members” and “their behavior is often deadly” uses the fear card to gain public support for what ever law enforcement action is desired against the group. For years the FBI has been telling us that there exists parallels between 18th Street and international crime but many of those linkages have been overstated and just because the federal government says that 18th Street possesses weapons of mass destruction does not necessarily mean that it is true. United States Senator Dianne Feinstein published a report in 2003 which erroneously stated that 80 percent of the 18th Street gang in California consists of illegal immigrants.

Gang Injunctions

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has three gang injunctions against the 18th Street; two in the Rampart Division and one in the Southwest Division of the LAPD against the same faction that Catorino Gonzales and Pedro Espinoza were from. This specific 18th Street gang has several clicks including Alcase, Lil Lowks, and Smiley Drive.

The Rampart injunctions were under review and temporarily halted in September of 1999 because of the Rampart corruption scandal that implicated several LAPD officers in criminal activity. In 2002 these injunctions were refiled by the City Attorney’s Office and placed back into affect.

Warring with Bloods

Certain factions of 18th Street in South Los Angeles are feuding with Black gangs, specifically the Bloods. In 1994, members of the Rancho Park click that were hanging out on Gibraltar Avenue in the Jungles got into a conflict with members of the Black P Stones in the Jungles. The actual source of this conflict remains in question, but an argument ensued, and an 18th Street member was murdered, thus starting the cycle of violence between the Bloods and the 18th Street. The Black Stones from the City joined the conflict, then in 1996 the Rollin’ 20s Bloods got involved. More recently the Fruit Town Brims, the 4th Blood gang joined the conflict against the 18th Street. This conflict followed the war between the Venice Shoreline Crips, a predominately black gang and the Hispanic Venice 13, that saw 17 murders in 9 months from 1993-94. Eventually, Venice 13 had the support of three other Hispanic gangs; Culver City Boys, Sotel, and Santa Monica 13, but that war was over by 1996.

List of all 18th Street Neighborhoods in Los Angeles County

Photo of 18th Street Graffiti from 1997

18th Street in the News

  • 18 members of MacArthur Park area gang are indicted Oct 25, 2007
  • Judge Lifts Injunction Against 18th Street Gang Members, February 21, 2002, LA Times
  • California’s Most Violent Export by Investigator Al Valdez
  • ENFORCEMENT OF GANG INJUNCTION DELAYED AGAIN , October 23, 1999, LA Times
  • L.A.’s Dirty War on Gangs , October 11, 1999, LA Weekly
  • Rampart Probe May Put Gang Injunction at Risk , September 19, 1999, LA Times
  • Alleged Gang Member Arrested in LAPD murder, August 14, 1998, AP
  • 18th Street Gang Member Sentenced to Death, October 31, 1997, City News Service
  • Judge Puts More Heat on 18th Street Gang, August 29, 1997, KCBS2.com

  • 18th Street Gang: Another Injunction?
    , August 4, 1997, KCBS


  • Judge Bans 18th Street Gang
    , July 11, 1997, KCBS2.com

  • An Inside Look at 18th St.’s Menace; Its size and ability to recruit across ethnic lines make the L.A.-based network one of the most prolific gangs in the nation, Nov 17, 1996, LA Times
  • alexalonso Posted by on Dec 22 2002. Filed under Features, People of CA v. Pedro Espinoza. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

    123 Comments for “The 18th Street Gang in Los Angeles”

    1. exotic

      WETBACKS GOO BACK HOME!!!

    2. fooshi

      wetbacks are home

    3. antman6447

      i just hope, one, day, it could, all, stop…
      peace..

      : )

    4. Great information! I'll be bookmarking this site for future reference!

      Steven Wevodau
      http://www.steven-wevodau.com

    5. vago

      fuck u vatos.. 18 street gang 4 life big vago im 18 with a bullet bitch

    6. FLIRT

      Hey, VAGO I wanna know if ur still around. VaGO 4rm ws xv3st. i stay in southcentral,la

    7. ron

      the shit will never stop as long as border is open we have them in Washington only good thing is they don't speak English no one likes egg street

    8. Proud Chicano

      Egg st is the biggest gang they're in the oc ie taking over weak neighborhoods they let anyone in blacks Armenians whites wetbacks guatemalans not alot of Chicanos in egg st not alot in la period

    9. The individual factions can number from 50 to several hundred members and they are dispersed throughout the County, but their strong hold and their oldest barrio is located in the Pico Union of the Staples center between the Harbor 110 Freeway…..

    10. roach

      fuk fakes HNE X3 HAWTHORNE 13 lws fab fuk the rest

    11. JOSE PODEROSO

      MEXICANS CONTROL THE BORDERS DRUG FLOW TO 7 COUNTRYS AND WE DEMAND RESPECT AT WHATEVER COST……WHEN THEY KILL OR CAPTURE ANY OF ARE MAN THERES 5 MORE WILLING TO EXECUTE ORDERS…….NO ONE IS UNTOUCHABLE NO ONE……

    12. JOSE PODEROSO

      BY THE WAY FUCK U EXOCTIC SUCK ON THE MEXICAN
      LABORS NUTTS….PINCHE LOUSSY LAZY NEGRITOSSSSS…..

    13. Horse

      Gangs are for people who can’t use their own brains. They need someone else to thinks for them. Get a real job you losers.

    14. Alex

      Your mother goes to college(lol)

    15. Bay Area OG

      Man I send this message out to the people of color you Africa and Latin King and Queens come from ancient cultures that date back to the beginning of time both cultures have the same thing in common such as: pyrmids, worship, history and respect for gods green earth, now our ancestors that laid that golden path for love and peace for all man kind weather they’re Black, Brown or White are tossing and turning in there grave because YOU UNEDUCATED FUCKS KILLING EACHOTHER FOR NO APPARENT REASON LIKE A STREET CONNER THAT YOU WILL NEVER OWN !!!! A REASON TO DISTROY WHAT MR. CESAR CHAVES AND DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING SET OUT FOR US YEARS AGO !!!! WHAT A FUCKING WAIST NO SELF RESPECT AND NO RESPECT TO THE EYGPTIAN AND AZTEC CULTURE

    16. fuck u all south side cudahy 13 clara st locos fuck u bicths

    17. Hey jose i agree with u send me a email my address Sweetone2825@yahoo.com.

    18. Dreamer

      I AM LOOKING FOR A GUY NAME JOE FROM 18ST WE KNOW EACH OTHER FROM A LONG TIME AGO I AM FROM EL PASO AND IT WAS DURING THE YEAR OF 1984
      I HOPE THAT I CAN FIND HIM.

    19. JOHN

      I SEEN JOE 5 MINS A GO HE WAS JUGGLING TENNIS BALLS RIGHT OFF THE FREEWAY EXIT FOR CHANGE I GAVE A QUARTER IM A EXIT THERE TOMMOROW SHOULD I TELL EM THAT DREAMER WANTS TO SUCK HIS PIPI ?

    20. MARA SALVATRUCHA_213_4Life

      FUCK FAKES..

      Mara Salvatrucha Hollywood Lokotes Salvatruchos HLS clika 4 life! u know where we r at..come find us u bitches

      \,,/ MSX3 \,,/

    21. MARA SALVATRUCHA_213_4Life

      joe was suckin cock last i heard when he was lookin down the barrel of our cuetes

    22. Stryker18st

      FUCK TWATTS u fuckers changed ur name just to survive lol bitches. ALL U FUCKERS ARE JUST HATING cuz my gang always makes the front page on the sunday paper. AND THIS FOOL ALONZO NEEDS 2 STUDIED HIS WORK MORE EVERYONE KNOWS THAT 18st IS TAKING OUT ALL THEM NIGGERS THAT FREELOAD OFF WELFARE section 8 fuckers and they say we are fuckin up the economy shit at least we work we may saell oranges outside the freeways but we do something unlike niggers that beg for change outside liquor stores. FUCK PISS STAIN FUCK JAMIEL SHAWS BITCH ASS HE GOT WHAT HE DESERVE. ONE LESS NIGGER OFF OF SECTION 8 AND WELFARE

      • 18K

        Latinos get more Welfare than any other nationaity in the U.S. check your statistics 18st. You are probably here illegally and get free medical benefits. LOL

    23. Stryker18st

      DIE MONKEYS DIE. SOON HISPANICS ARE GOING 2 TAKE OVER THIS COUNTRY LOL NO MORE STUPID NIGGERS ASKING FOR CHANGE OUTSIDE LIQOUR STORES NO MORE SECTION 8 AND WELFARE HURAY. STUPID WHITE PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE SENT THEM COTTON PICKING GREASY MONKEYS BACK 2 AFRICA OR AT LEAST TAUGHT THEM to USE DEODORENT

      • ally

        Hispanics are people whose ancestors are from spain- not indians in what is south america today. Hispanics are white, mexicans have tanned skin. Hispanics lost their chance to take over this country hundred of years ago when they sold california,new mexico, texas, etc… to make up the rest of the U.S.

        Oh did you mean Hispanics (AKA- Mexicans) are going to take over… harvesting white mens crops, cleaning up white peoples homes, oh I get it now- maid service! Yeah you and your people can continue doing those things because your labor costs a lot less than any other minority group would accept for that kind of work and your women are good at watching our babies and teaching them enough spanish to be able to boss the housekeeper around!

        If blacks are monkeys…. are mexicans jackasses? Is your countries symbol a mule? LOL

    24. 18K

      Fake Teens is Madd kuz Bloods Murder Illegals and make em wish they never came here to get free health care and Welfare. Faketeen Killer. Thats why faketeens shoot kuz they can’t fight. They got mad and bloods for beating they ass in fist fights. But Fuck it we still killin em. Yall kill civlians but we kill yall soldiers!!! Go back to the Pen and suck the white mans dick in the pen!!

      18K 13k CK MS13K

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