Over 300 street gangs are situated in the Las Vegas Valley. Police say that number is growing because members are breaking ties and creating new factions.
About 20,000 members (which equates to 6/1000 residents in Nevada) are in this area, based on the National Gang Threat Assessment conducted by the FBI in 2011. There are only four states with higher member numbers: Illinois, New Mexico, Idaho, and California.
The age of the average gang member ranges between 14 and 21. Recruitment generally begins as early as middle school, according to Metro Police.
Most of Las Vegas’s traditional gangs are actually subsets of bigger organizations based in California. There are also “hybrid gangs,” which are versatile organizations that are more difficult for law enforcement to monitor.
Hybrid gangs generally are more scattered, violent, and much younger. A hybrid member isn’t limited to one gang, either. They do not abide by the rules of a specific leader, nor do they adhere to conduct rules explicitly. Figuring out who their rivals are have proved to be a bit of a challenge for law enforcement.
Over the last ten years or so, the Las Vegas Valley has received a rise in gang-related activity. There were 630 street gangs with 18,184 different members as of the current year. 15,000 of those gang members are known. 2,888 happen to be affiliate members.
The following is a list of known gangs that are situated in the city:
Gangs who believe in white supremacy are not very common in the Las Vegas Valley. They are hard to detect as most do not call themselves gangs. In fact, neo-Nazis prefer using SWP is a symbol, which is an acronym (supreme white power). 311 is code for KKK (the alphabet’s 11th letter repeated a few times). Popular white supremacy gangs include the Aryan Warriors and the Insane NAZI Lowriders.
Crips and Bloods
The Crips and the Bloods are two rival gangs that were founded in LA. They are some of the most popular criminal groups in the USA. Both gangs have a reputation for violent feuds that are intense enough to permeate pettiness, to boot. For example, a Blood may call something “brazy,” switching out the “c” in the word “crazy” just to stick it to the Crips. Bloods traditionally wear red while Crips were blue.
The hybrid gang known as the Gerson Park Kingsmen was named after a housing complex in what used to be Gerson Park. Members generally identify with both the Bloods and Crips. This gang uses “369” in honor of the three apartment blocks in Gerson Park (which has six apartments on each block; and each building has nine units). Originally, the gang had the name Ace of Spades. The name was changed once Gerson Park came into existence. This gang has sparked a number of other hybrid gangs, which includes Hustlers Taking Over (HTO) and Squadup.
One of Gerson Park Kingsmen’s hybrids are known as the “Woods,”which is an acronym for the phrase “we on our dollas.” The phrase is indicative of the gang’s primary goal: making money. Six members of the Woods were connected to the murder of Trevor Nettleton, a metro officer, after robbers tried to break into his home in 2009.
A number of local Crips organizations are named after the neighborhoods they started in: the Valley View Gangsta Crips, the Rolling 50s (a.k.a. the Vegas Heights Gangsta Crips), and the Donna St., Crips. The Crips continue to spread from one part of the city to another.
Rolling 60s: This gang is loosely associated with the Crips. They dominated Berkeley Square at one time, running various drug houses in Doolittle Park. They keep residents terrorized with drive-bys regularly, some of which result in shootings. However, in the spring of 2004, over 20 alleged gang members were charged with federal crimes. Since then, criminal activity has significantly diminished in the vicinity.
One of Las Vegas Valley’s original Bloods subsets, the Playboy Bloods, are recognized by their altered Playboy Bunny logo (one ear folded down, the other up).Ten thousand alleged gang members were officially indicted on charges that were violence and drug-related in 2008. Accusations were made about crack cocaine being trafficked by the gang. According to prosecutors, members were operating in the housing complex known as Sherman Gardens (a.k.a. “Jets Complex”), located on the corner of Doolittle and H.
The gang known as the Westside Piru Bloods started in the city of Compton, California, but eventually, they made their way through southern Nevada. This gang has a far reach – Piru subsets by the dozens are situated throughout the entire West Coast (and nearby areas).
Surenostranslates to “southerners” from Spanish to English. This southern California gang has several subgroups loosely affiliated with it in the city of Las Vegas. Gang members weara “13” number on their clothing to represent the Mexican Mafia prison gang, as well as “M” – which is the alphabet’s 13th letter – as a pledge of allegiance to gang mentors. This street gang generally wears blue, and the LA Dodgers logo is often seen on their clothing.
One of Nevada’s most prominent Surenos street gang subgroups are the San Chucos. This is an unpredictable and large street gang. Members are identified by tattoos that say either “Chuco” or “SC.” However, the tattoos don’t clarify whether a member’s loyalties are with Nevada 13 or the Mexican Mafia.
The street gang known as the “28th Street” originated in the downtown core. Nowadays, its members are spread across Las Vegas. Originally, the gang was part of the Surenos, but over the years, younger members severed ties with the Mexican Mafia. The opted to instead pledge loyalty directly to the Nevada 13, a fairly new prison gang.
A couple of dice or a Stratosphere tattoo is what police look for to determine if members are part of the gang known as “Naked City,” which originated from the Surenos gang. These symbols represent the roots of the gang, which stem from Meadows Village, which is on the backdrop of the Stratosphere. Here is what Miguel Chavez, a gang specialist and detention officer in Las Vegas, had to say on the matter:
Nortenos translates to “Northerners” in English. This street gang is from Northern California and are rivals of the Surenos. Members align themselves with the prison gang Nuestra Familia, who are Mexican Mafia rivals. There aren’t as many Nortenos members in Vegas in comparison to Surenos members. 14 is a number worn by Nortenos members as a representation of “N,” which is the alphabet’s 14th letter. They also wear red clothing that many sports teams wear as uniforms, including UNLV and the 49ers. “Us NortenosLove Violence” is shortened down to an acronym: UNLV.
The Pinoy Boys
The Pinoy Boys are an Asian gang with a wide reach in Vegas. The presence of the street gang is surprisingly unorganized and sparse, though. Pinoyis a term used to describe someone who is Filipino (the final four letters in that word adds the letter “Y” at the end as a suffix). Pinoy Boys- as well as other Asian street gang members – are typically identified by the police by way of tattoos written in foreign languages.