MS-13 and the Other Most Dangerous Gangs in America

Tattoos and gang sign of Latin Kings gang

The Latin Kings originally started in Chicago. | Javier Ramirez/Wikimedia Commons

America is home to some dangerous places. We have our sketchy cities and states where you’ll want to watch your back, even though the “bad” parts of the United States tend to be much friendlier than the dangerous areas in other countries. Still, we have a culture that has ingrained a “watch your back” type of mentality. While generally trusting and friendly, we Americans retain a sense of skepticism. We know that anybody could turn out to be a cloaked villain of some sort. Or, they might even be in a gang.

Gangsters can be funny and relatable, and their crews embody a sense of freedom that few of us rarely get to experience. But that doesn’t mean that real gangs — the street gangs, prison gangs, and outlaw motorcycle clubs that are rooting around among us — are full of nice guys. In fact, many are extremely dangerous.

Below, we’ll take a look at 15 of the most dangerous and notorious gangs in the U.S. The list isn’t ranked in any way, as it’s hard to try and come up with some sort of parameters for how “dangerous” something is. But in law enforcement circles, these are the gangs that can be dangerous if you somehow find yourself face to face with them.

1. Latin Kings

  • The Latin Kings started up in Chicago in the 1950s. 

With an estimated 20,000-35,000 members, the Latin Kings is mostly comprised of Latinos from a number of different countries. Originally, the gang started up in Humboldt Park in Chicago, with the coming together of Latino groups to defend themselves against discrimination and violence. Since then, though, the gang has adopted violence as its own. Look out for the colors black and gold, and the group’s famous “sacred crown” insignia.

Next: A fearsome outlaw motorcycle gang.

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