The Mexican Mafia (Spanish: Mafia Mexicana [maˈfia mexiˈkana]), also known as La Eme (Spanish for "the M"), is a Mexican American highly-organized, criminal organization in the United States. Despite its name, the Mexican Mafia did not originate in Mexico and is entirely a U.S. criminal prison organization. Sureños, including MS-13 and Florencia 13, use the number 13 to show allegiance to the Mexican Mafia. M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Law enforcement officials report that La eMe is the most powerful gang within the California prison system. Government officials state that there are currently 155–300 official members of the Mexican Mafia with around 990 associates who assist La eMe in carrying out its illegal activities in the hopes of becoming full members.
Organized crime, Organised crime, and often criminal organizations are a group of terms which categorise transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals, who intend to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are politically motivated. Sometimes criminal organizations force people to do business with them, as when a gang extorts money from shopkeepers for so-called "protection". Gangs may become disciplined enough to be considered organized. An organized gang or criminal set can also be referred to as a mob.
Other organizations like, States, the Army, Police, Governments and Corporations may sometimes use organized crime methods to conduct their business, but their powers derive from their status as formal social institutions. There is a tendency to distinguish organized crime from other forms of crimes, such as, white-collar crime, financial crimes, political crimes, war crime, state crimes and treason. This distinction is not always apparent and the academic debate is ongoing. For example, in failed states that can no longer perform basic functions such as education, security, or governance, usually due to fractious violence or extreme poverty, organised crime, governance and war are often complimentary to each other. The term Parliamentary Mafiocracy is often attributed to democratic countries whose political, social and economic institutions are under the control of few families and business oligarchs.
18th Street gang, also known as M18, Calle 18, Barrio 18, La18 or Mara-18 in Central America, is a multi-ethnic transnational criminal organization that started as a street gang in the Rampart area of Los Angeles, California. They are considered to be the largest transnational criminal gang in Los Angeles and it is estimated that there are tens of thousands of members in Los Angeles County alone. Their wide-ranging illegal activities and notoriety has come to the attention of the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In the early 2000s, the government initiated raids against known and suspected gang members netting hundreds of arrests across the country. The FBI documented close to 65,000 active gang members and they are active in 120 cities in 37 U.S. states.
Gang presence in the United States military is a phenomenon in which members of American street gangs such as the Crips, Latin Kings, Aryan Brotherhood and many others either join the United States Armed Forces, or are recruited to join the gangs while already in the military.