The Department of Justice estimates there could be as many as 95,000 Hispanic gang members in California today. Located in all of the major metropolitan cities, these gangs vary in size from a few members to several hundred. The gang members range in ag e from 12- to 40-years-old, and many are second- or third-generation gang members.
Adult Hispanic gang members recruit and use juvenile gang members to commit crimes or carry weapons because juveniles are subject to less severe sentences compared to adult penalties. Juvenile gang members are often arrested numerous times before actuall y serving time in jail or the California Youth Authority.
Recruitment of new gang members often requires the prospective member to commit a drive-by shooting or some other form of felonious assault. Loyalty to their gang usually extends to their death.
Reliance on tattoos, hand signs, and graffiti continues to dominate the gangs' characteristics. These symbols are frequently used to threaten rival gangs besides endorsing allegiance to their own gang.
Their criminal activities now range from robberies, burglaries, grand thefts, vehicle thefts, receiving stolen property to assaults, batteries, drive-by shootings, and murders. They are becoming involved as entrepreneurs in the selling of narcotics--parti cularly PCP, Mexican tar heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana.
The gangs' arsenals have expanded to large-caliber handguns, shotguns, and automatic weapons; and their crimes are becoming more violent. Hispanic gang members were responsible for approximately 80 gang-related drive-by shootings in Stockton, California, during 1991.
Gang members will attack rival gangs in defense of their turf. The Eastside Longos--a Hispanic gang in Long Beach, California--has been involved in a gang war since October 1989 with the Tiny Rascal Gangsters--a Cambodian gang also located in Long Beach and in several other parts of the state including Fresno and San Diego. Drive-by shootings and assaults between these two gangs have resulted in 16 killings thus far.
Law enforcement is an increasing target of gang violence. Hispanic gangs in the Los Angeles area, such as the Harbor City and the "Crazy," have attacked both on and off-duty officers.
A few of the gangs are beginning to recruit non-Hispanic gang members, and some Hispanic gang members are joining different ethnic gangs. Various Hispanic gangs are aligning with other ethnic gangs, usually from the same neighborhood. This affiliation a llows them more neighborhood protection from rival gangs.
Hispanic female gangs are starting to evolve exclusive of the traditionally male-dominated Hispanic gangs. Some of the female gang members, such as the Fresno Bulldog Babes, are participating in drive-by shootings, auto thefts, and assaults.