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Arturo Marquez Webster?s II New Riverside Dictionary, Revised Edition defines a gang as 1. A group of persons who work together or socialize regularly. 2. A group of criminals or adolescent hoodlums. We are all members of groups who work or socialize together regularly. The Parent Teacher Association, the local bowling league, the bird watchers society all work together or meet socially on a regular basis. In this paper I am going to concentrate on the second definition of a gang given by Webster?s Dictionary. The second definition is also very close to the definition currently used by law enforcement to define a gang ? A group of 3 or more individuals with a name, a common sign or symbol, whose members engage in criminal activity.

I have listened to gang awareness presenters give brief histories of the rise of Hispanic gangs in California. Some presenters believe that the first Hispanic gangs in California began when California passed form Mexican rule to the control of the United States of America.

Anglos flooded into California and the Hispanic Californios felt invaded and felt the need to protect their neighborhoods and their way of life. I have heard other presenters say that Hispanic gangs although present earlier, only became clearly identifiable in the early 1940?s. There were the famous ?zoot suit riots? in Los Angeles and other clashes between Anglos and Hispanics in California and other western states. These gangs evolved over time into increasingly violent groups. During the 1960?s the Mexican Mafia, La EME, was formed by inmates from East Los Angeles to control drug traffic and profits in the state prison system. Members of the Mexican Mafia are also called surenos, which is Spanish for southerners. They claim the color blue and the number 13. The significance of the...