An Introduction to Gangs – Part 3, by T.N.


There are far more groups in this category than I could ever hope to name, but they are usually easy to spot. Unfortunately, they are actually very commonly found in prepper circles and in the survivalist communities. Most white supremacy groups and skinhead groups are far more concerned with their political cause and less with committing acts of violence. This being said many of them have committed isolated acts of violence at some time or another, and many times conduct regular criminal enterprises that include making/selling meth and buying or selling illegal guns.

Most violence from these groups comes from the skinhead gangs that act much like any other street gang but with a “whites only” policy. Skinheads often shave their heads, have tattoos of swastikas and lightning bolts, and the hard core will wear an outfit of suspenders, boots, and work pants. They will generally have their boot laces laced in a straight bar pattern, not crossed. The laces will usually either be white or red. (Red signifies having killed for the cause.) Other white supremacy groups have very different modes of dress, but tattoos of swastikas, lightning bolts, Vikings, and the phrase “white power” or “white pride” are very common.

In a SHTF situation, you need to be aware of these groups. For the most part, this is the moment they have been waiting for and are likely to be amongst the most prepared. So long as you don’t get tangled up in their political ambitions then, you have very little to worry about. However, if they use a SHTF situation to try to start a race war or to harm innocent people, you must judge for yourself what you will do. As for me, I will protect the innocent around me, when I can. In doing business with these groups, they are generally easy to deal with; however, it is best to avoid these groups if possible, both out of a sense of safety and moral obligation.


With an estimated 50,000 members nationwide, the Surenos are arguably the largest Hispanic gang in the U.S., especially on the west coast. The Surenos started in Los Angeles in the 1940’s and for decades were isolated to Southern California by a conflict with rival gangs known as Nortenos. An artificial line was drawn at Fresno, California; however, the Surenos have won that conflict and are now being found in nearly all 50 states and in large numbers in most major cities in the western half of the United States.

Like the Crips and Bloods, Surenos are more a loose coalition of street gangs with a common culture and way of acting. In California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and many parts of the west coast, they are all loyal to and take orders from the Mexican Mafia. In places where the Mexican Mafia has not seized control, the Surenos are usually taking orders from the Mexican Drug Cartels.

Surenos can be identified easily by their mode of dress and hair styles. Most Surenos will normally wear baggy clothes and have their head shaved or the hair slicked back. They like classic cars and usually lower them forming a style called a “low rider”. This being said, these things are also fairly common throughout the Hispanic community, so the best way to identify a Sureno is the tattoos. Surenos will almost always have a tattoo of their last name, neighborhood, or set somewhere on their body. They also commonly have the words SUR, SUR13, 13, X3, XIII, or tattoos of clowns, and a tattoo of three dots above two lines. They commonly place tattoos on the back of their heads, across their shoulders, or on the front of their chest.

Nortenos are often similar to Surenos in appearance and organization; however, the two never get along and are violent rivals. They can be identified by similar tattoos, but they use the number 14 in place of 13 and will often tattoo the word NORTE or north side on them.

Mara Salvatrucha a.k.a. MS-13 is a huge international gang known for brutal violence and the use of machetes to kill their victims. This group is commonly found in all 50 states and will often ally itself with Surenos in areas where Surenos are present.

Latin Kings are a Hispanic gang found more commonly on the east coast and is usually identified by gold and black clothing.

Mexican Drug Cartels are in my opinion the greatest threat the citizens of this country face, especially for those who live near the border. The threat from this group is not isolated to the border. The cartels have smuggling routes all the way through all 50 states, and they use their hit men and soldiers to protect these routes and enforce their will all across America.

South of the border there is a major war going on, a war that has left more people dead than the Korean War and in a shorter amount of time. As the cartels fight each other and fight the Mexican military, there are mass graves with hundreds of civilians in them found on both sides of the border every month.

The cartels have total control over entire regions of Mexico to the point that the Mexican police and military can not even patrol. It is so bad that entire units of the Mexican army have defected and gone over to work for the cartels. (Loz Zetas were the Mexican equivalent of the US Army Rangers until they defected en mass to work for the cartels as hit squads and enforcers.) On our side of the border, there are Americans being murdered for simply being on their own property when the cartel enforcers bring a shipment through the area.

The cartel members can at times be hard to identify, as they tend to blend into illegal immigrant communities and can look like anyone. There are, however, a few things that can help. Many cartel soldiers will have tattoos, such as Hecho en Mexico (which means “made in Mexico”) or the name of their cartel or the Mexican state they come from. Other common identifiers are the Santo del muerte. (This is the saint of death that looks like the virgin of Guadalupe but has a skeleton instead of a woman.) They also have a hair style of a nearly shaved head except for a small tail at the back of the head. Cartel members also have the tendency to dress very nicely and have very nice cars that can stick out in a community of illegal aliens.

The threat from the cartels should not be underestimated. Many of their soldiers have military training as well as access to all varieties of weapons to include RPG’s and anti-air missiles. Their soldiers can be found throughout all 50 states but are most common in the border states and near large farm labor communities.

The cartels have arranged deals with nearly all street gangs (especially Surenos and the Mexican Mafia) to smuggle and distribute drugs throughout the country and as such their influence is unlimited.

If you believe you come into contact with a cartel-backed group, it is best to stay away. If you live in an area where the cartel operates regularly, I truly recommend you arm yourself and organize your neighbors for assistance, because the Federal government has utterly failed to protect you.

The Mexican Mafia is a very small but extremely powerful prison gang that started in the California prison system during the 1960’s. It eventually became so powerful and feared that they were able to take control of nearly all sets of Surenos in Southern California, and as such they now extend their control from prison out to the streets of several states and collect taxes from drug sales at the street level.

The Mexican Mafia a.k.a La EME technically only has thirteen full members, known as “La Mesa”, but they employ a network of hundreds of associates to enforce their will onto the mass population of Surenos in prison, who in turn carry their orders out onto the streets.

La EME has arranged massive drug distribution agreements with the cartels, pumps tons of drugs across the border, and distributes them through their vast network of Sureno street gangs. This, however, is but a glimpse of their power. They are known to have successfully bribed many judges and politicians in California and have even successfully gotten several members elected to the state legislature of California and are even rumored to have gotten a member appointed to a cabinet level position within the Bush Whitehouse. (I stress that that is not proven, even though law enforcement did find documentation confirming it; I saw it myself, as I was one of the officers who found it during a search.)

It is highly unlikely you will ever encounter a member or even an associate of La EME, unless you work or are incarcerated in a California prison, but be aware of the name and know the power they have.


If you happen to live in an area with a large gang population anywhere nearby, even if it’s a few hours away, I strongly advise you to move or bug out ASAP when SHTF. If you can not do this, then you need to include massively increased security into your preparation planning.

I do not recommend you conduct any business dealings with any of these groups after a collapse occurs, as they are all dangerous; however if you do some research you may learn enough about the habits of several of these groups to be able to safely live and operate near them. Many of these groups are found in various places and yet others travel and can appear anywhere, so it would do you some good to go online and research as much as you can about these groups and any others that may be located in your area. There are many small towns and remote areas that claim they have no gang problems, but from what I have seen that is a lie. In some way or another gangs exist everywhere in America.

This article was intended as a basic overview and a beginning point for knowledge of gangs. It is inherently an incomplete work, and you should study the subject further.