Gangs in Salt Lake County are primarily influenced by two areas of the country: Los Angeles and Chicago. The Salt Lake metropolitan area could be referred to as a "Secondary Gang City" because it has the same affiliations as these influential gang cities, but with local mutations. In fact, the gang culture found in Salt Lake is one of the most diverse in the western United States. Major California affiliations in the area include the Surenos, Nortenos, Crips, and Bloods. Chicago affiliations include both the Folks and the People. Additionally, the Salt Lake metro area has Southeast Asian gangs, Polynesian gangs, racist and non-racist skinheads, motorcycle gangs, Straight Edgers, and extremist groups like Animal Liberation Front.
A California gang influence on Utah's local Hispanic gangs was identified as early as the 1970's. One of Salt Lake's earliest gangs, Chosen Few, was started by teenagers who were influenced by the movie, "Boulevard Nights," which was portrayed Southern California's Hispanic gang culture. Since that time, Utah's Hispanic gang culture has continued to grow, and the gang culture in Southern California has served as the primary influence. Surenos gangs were formed in the Latino neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Surenos simply means "Southerners." Surenos gangs will frequently use the initials SUR and the number 13 to identify. Large Surenos gangs in the Salt Lake area include Surenos 13, Chiques Trece, Avenues, 18th Street, 38th street, Gardenia Trece, Florencia 13, and others. Nortenos affiliates mostly hail from north of Bakersfield, California. Nortenos means "Northerners," and Nortenos groups in the area use N, Norte and the number 14 to identify. Nortenos affiliates include 21st Street, Diamond Street, Familia Varrio Loco (FVL) and VI Nortenos. Many of these groups continue to have on-going, long-running conflicts.
Some Hispanic groups are modeled after the California style, but don't claim either Surenos or Nortenos affiliation. Many of these groups claim the color brown, and may use Surenos symbols. They are frequently referred to as Brown Pride gangs. QVO, La Raza, and Big Dick Gang (BDG) are brown pride gangs found in Salt Lake area.
Two trends have recently been identified within Utah's Hispanic gang culture.
The area is seeing more California transplants from Surenos affiliates, including 18th Street, Avenues - 43rd Street, Florencia 13, White Fence, 38th Street and others. These new arrivals have caused some street level gang alignments to shift.
The area has seen an increase in gang members from Mexico's large drug cartel gangs, including the Sinaloan Cartel (Sinaloan Cowboys) and the Juarez cartel. It appears that as much as 70 to 80% of the area's street level narcotics have been transported in either from or through Mexico. Drug gang members in the area are involved in the distribution of cocaine, Mexican tar heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamines.
Street gangs in Utah are frequently affiliated with either the Crips or the Bloods. Blood and Crip gangs originated in the Los Angeles area, but most gang members in Salt Lake are not from California; rather, they are local youths who have adopted the California gang mentality. The area's Polynesian and Southeast Asian Gangs, as well as predominantly Caucasian and African-American gangs are typically affiliated with Crips or Bloods.
Crips may use the word "Crip" in the name of the gang, may write insults to Bloods, like "BK" (Blood Killer), and typically claim the dark blue as their color. Large Crip gangs in the Salt Lake metro area include Tongan Crip Gang, Lay Low Crips, Sons of Samoa, Tongan Crip Regulators, Tongan Style Gang, Original Laotian Gang, Salt Lake Posse, and others.
Blood gangs will often have the word "Blood" or "Piru" in their gang name, may write insults to Crips like "CK" (Crip Killer), and typically claim red as their color. Large Blood gangs in the area include Kearns Town Bloods, Tiny Oriental Posse, and others.
The Folks and the People are Chicago's largest affiliation, and they are found in most large Midwestern cities, as well. The Folks are the larger of the two, as well as the most notorious. Folks and People in Chicago typically use combinations of colors or will wear their identifiers on a specific side of the body.
Folk affiliates use the number 6, the six-pointed star of David, an upward -pointing pitchfork with three prongs, and a playboy bunny with the right ear bent as their symbols. They also tend to wear their identifiers on the right side of their body (i.e., six earrings in the right ear, a six-pointed star shaved into the right side of the head, etc.). Folks gangs found in the Salt Lake area include Gangster Disciples, Ambrose, Black Mafia Gangsters and King Mafia Disciples. Folks gangs in the Salt lake area most often affiliate with Blood gangs, although this does not hold true for Gangster Disciples or Ambrose.
People affiliates use the number 5, the 5-pointed Star of Islam, a 3 or 5-pointed crown, a downward-pointed pitchfork, and a dollar sign as their symbols. They usually wear their identifiers on the left side of their bodies. People gangs found in the Salt Lake area include the Latin Kings, and the Vice Lords.
(from information compiled by Agent Lee Perry of the Utah Dept. of Public Safety)
Outlaw motorcycle gangs are found around the state of Utah. The Barons are a one-chapter club based in Salt Lake City. They have had other chapters from time to time in such places as New Mexico, but current data indicates that only the mother chapter in Salt Lake is functioning. The other club in Utah, the Sundowners, has its mother chapter in Ogden. The Sundowners are a larger organization than the Barons, with chapters in Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Florida. The Sundowners have been know to affiliate with the Hell's Angels farm clubs or prospect clubs in Nevada. In Utah, the Sundowners have active chapters in Ogden, Salt Lake City, and St. George.
Motorcycle gangs have traditionally had a great deal of involvement in criminal activities. They are involved in the production, transportation, distribution and use of illegal drugs. They have been linked to money laundering, murder, witness intimidation, extortion, theft, rape, kidnapping, prostitution, and weapons violations. They often attempt to cover their illegal activities with legal businesses like towing companies, repair shops, escort services, security companies, bars and motorcycle shops.
Straight Edge is a national movement found around the United States which originated in the New York area. Straight Edge (SEE) members typically abstain from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. However, many of them are pro-violence, and SXE members have been responsible for a high number of assaults, stabbings, and beatings in the Salt Lake metro area. Straight Edge members typically fall into three categories:
Straight Edge: The most moderate, they typically follow the beliefs, but may or may not be involved in aggressively forcing them on others.
Straight Edge Vegans: These Straight Edgers have adopted a vegan lifestyle in addition to their SXE beliefs, and typically abstain from animal products.
Hardline or Militant Vegan: The most prone to be involved in violence, many of these individuals are also members of Animal Liberation Front. SXE members of ALF have committed $2.5 million in bombings in the Salt Lake area since 1996.
Straight Edgers are far more likely to be Caucasian and to come from the middle or upper class than traditional street gang members. The distinctive Straight Edge style includes close-cropped or shaved hair, tattoos (often featuring slogans like "Drug Free," "Hardline," or the letter "X"), customized t-shirts with SXE slogans imprinted in Old English-style letters, large baggy clothing, body piercing, and heavy silver necklaces and chains. SXE members use the X as their most common symbol.
Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is a shadowy extremist group operating around the United States. ALF utilizes a leaderless resistance concept where individual cells operate on their own initiative without centralized leadership, to accomplish similar goals. Typical ALF targets around the country have included fur farms, animal processing plants, meat markets, furniture stores (leather furniture), etc. One of the ALF's primary goals is to put animal-related businesses out of business through "economic sabotage." Acts committed by ALF around the country range from molotov cocktail and pipe bombings to graffiti and other types of vandalism.
he Salt Lake metro area is also home to several skinhead groups. Skinheads in the area are classified as either racist or non-racist. The largest non-racist skinhead group in the country is SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice). SHARP does not share the racial viewpoint of many racist skinheads, but its members are frequently involved in confrontations with racists.
Racist skinheads are often referred to as "boneheads" by non-racist skinheads, and are probably the most familiar to Utahns. Identifiers worn by racist skinheads include: flight jackets (often with Nazi, KKK or confederate patches), braces (suspenders with the colors of the group), shirts (normally a polo shirt buttoned to the top or a concert T-shirt from a racist group like Skrewdriver), rolled up jeans or Dickies, and Dr. Marten boots (which are now made with Kevlar toes). Racist skinheads may also have tattoos featuring Nazi symbols. Common identifiers include 88 (Heil Hitler), 18 (Adolph Hitler), swastikas and the Nazi SS lightening bolts. The racist skinhead agenda includes 4 key beliefs:
The white race is superior to all others.
Other races are subhuman or "mud people." Only those races which can show blood in the face, i.e., blush, are truly human.
All accomplishments in the world have been brought about by white men and women.
The Zionist Occupational Government (ZOG) controls the U.S. Government and the media.
Some skinheads are tied to the Christian Identity Movement which teaches that whites, not Jews, are the true nation of Israel. Others worship the old pagan Norse gods. Skinheads often view themselves as the protectors of the white race. For that reason, typical skinhead victims might include racial minorities, "race traitors" (people who are married to ethnic minorities), and gays/lesbians.
A few gangs choose not to align and may be rivals with several different gangs. Gangs like VLT (Varrio Loco Town), OSB (Oquirrh Shadow Boys), Salt Lake Posse, and others don't seem to align with any one affiliation, and may even choose their own colors and symbols which are unrelated to the primary affiliations. Some Asian gangs, like Oriental Posse also seem to be unaligned.
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