The City was once dominated by the likes of the 'Bloods' and the 'Crips,' now the city boasts over 1,000 gangs and 88,000 members. Asians, latinos, whites, and blacks: all are part of the growing epidemic.
"Los Angeles county and city is, unfortunately, the gang capital of America," Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said as police on Thursday announced a crackdown on the city's 11 worst gangs.
In the last 10 years 'gangsta' lifestyle has swarmed into the mainstream and now today's youth is becoming more apt to blur the line between what's real and what's fantasy. In the past, gangs were made up of the most poor groups in the city, those who felt rejected, weak, and had no way out--now, middle class youths--thinking that gangs are 'hip' or 'cool'--are joining in alarming numbers.
These numbers are having a tremendous impact on crime in the Las Angeles. Currently, 56% of all murders are committed by gang members--remember, these number only 88,000 in a city/county of MILLIONS.
Of course, most of these killings go unnoticed, because they involve minorities--black or brown. "It is only when something special happens, or a white person is involved, that it becomes newsworthy," Malcolm Klein, professor at USC and Gang Expert said.
Although the number of middle class members is rising, 95% of gang members come from poor families, feel that they have no power, no say in government, and usually high school drop outs.
The California Gangs Investigators Association blames, in part, public apathy. The people from more affluent neighborhoods simply don't care what's going in in Compton and other poor areas. They could care less about what happens to those people--and this is having disastrous consequences. As more and more of the violence spills into their 'nice' neighborhoods, people are beginning to wake up to the world of violence in which they live.
The gangs in LA aren't just doing petty crimes or even just local crimes anymore. They're peddling drugs in several nations, the MS-13 currently traffics drugs in 6 nations.
These problems have prompted the Mayor to ask for international support to counteract this increasingly global problem.