18th Street Gang started near 18th Street and Union Avenue in the Rampart District of Los Angeles. There is conflicting information as to the exact area, but this is a generally accepted area by most academic sources. They were originally part of Clanton 14 but wanted to make a separate clique called Clanton 18th Street and allow immigrants the opportunity to join. This proposal was rejected by the Clanton 14, which led to the formation of the 18th Street gang. The two gangs have been bitter rivals ever since. The 18th Street gang grew by expanding its membership to other nationalities and races, and it was among the first multiracial, multi-ethnic gangs in Los Angeles. In the beginning, they were made up largely of second-generation Hispanic immigrants. As the 18th Street gang began to battle with more established Hispanic gangs, they began to recruit outside of the Hispanic community. There are approximately 200 separate individual autonomous gangs operating under the same name within separate barrios in the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, the South Bay, Riverside California, East Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, Downtown Los Angeles, Mid-City, Pico Union, Inglewood, Cudahy, Lynwood, South Gate, Huntington Park, Maywood and Orange County, according to the latest figures from the NDIC. In the last decade, The Federal Bureau of Investigation has initiated wide-scale raids against known and suspected gang members, netting hundreds of arrests across the country. The majority of 18th Street cliques operating throughout Southern California are the result of Los Angeles members migrating to other areas and establishing their own cliques. 18th Street cliques have been identified in 120 cities in 37 states and the District of Columbia in the United States, as well as Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Canada and possibly Australia.

18th Street gang members are required to abide by a strict set of rules. Failure to obey the word of a gang leader, or to show proper respect to a fellow gang member, may result in an 18-second beating, or even execution for more serious offenses. According to the FBI, some factions of the 18th Street gang have developed a high level of sophistication and organization. The 18th Street gang is of Chicano origin and was formed by Mexican-American youth who were not accepted in the existing American gangs. 18th Street gang members often identify themselves with the number 18 on their clothing and sporting clothing from sports teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers and Oakland Raiders. 18th Street will use the symbols XV3, XVIII, 666, 99,(9+9=18), and 3-dots in their graffiti and tattoos. 18th Street colors are blue and black; blue is to represent Sureños (despite being a non-Sureños affiliate), the gangs from the oldest barrios in Southern California, and black is to represent the original color for the gang. The 18th Street gang is occasionally referred to as the “Children’s Army” because of its recruitment of elementary and middle-school aged youth. In El Salvador it is common for members of the gang to be tattooed on the face with a large “18”. In many cases the tattoo covers the entire face. “We recognize them as one of the most violent street gangs and one of the most prolific in the United States,” says Special agent George Rodriguez, who until his retirement oversaw investigations for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Cars are stolen and homes are burglarized by the gang routinely. On average, someone in Los Angeles County is assaulted or robbed by 18th Streeters every day. The gang has left a bloody trail of more than 250 homicides in the city of Los Angeles in the last 10 years – a pace three times that of many of the city’s most active gangs. 18th Street is a well established gang that is involved in all areas of street-crime. Some members have even become involved in producing fraudulentImmigration and Customs Enforcement identification cards and food stamps. Several 18th Street gang members have reached a higher level of sophistication and organization in their illicit activities than other gangs. While their main source of income is street-level distribution of cocaine and marijuana, they also have been linked to murders, murder-for-hire, assaults, arson, copyright infringement, drug trafficking, extortion, human trafficking, illegal immigration, kidnapping, vandalism, drug smuggling, people smuggling, prostitution, robbery, and weapons trafficking, as well as other crimes.18th Street Gang has also been implicated in the high-profile kidnapping and murder of the 16-year-old brother of internationally renowned Honduran soccer player Wilson Palacios.