There are approximately 20 separate individual autonomous gangs operating under the same label with separate barrios in the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, the South Bay, South Los Angeles, Downtown Los Angeles, Pico Union, Inglewood, and Cudahy according to the latest figures from the NDIC.
The 18th Street gang was the first Hispanic gang to break the racial membership barrier. Membership was originally open to Latinos. Although most members tend to be of Latino descent, membership has opened to other backgrounds, including Central American, African American, Middle Eastern, Asian, Caucasian, and Native American. 18th Street have an organized hierarchy. It is unknown who is at the top. On the streets, there are the Shotcallers, their Lieutenants, and the foot-soldiers beneath them. Although the gang is well networked throughout the nation, Mexico, and Central America, there is no known central leadership nationally or internationally. Cliques generally function independently, but will join forces when combating rival gangs or law enforcement. The 18 Street gang criminal activities have caught the attention of the FBI.
As with most gangs, 18th Street gang members can be easily identified by their tattoos. A common identifier is the number 18 (Spanish: dieciocho), which is usually represented in the Roman numerals (X8) (XVIII) (XV3) and sometimes they also use 666 or 99 (6+6+6=18 / 9+9=18). Some use the number 5 meaning the fifth letter of the Alphabet. They also tattoo themselves with the word BEST, which stands for Barrio Eighteen STreet. Members engage in graffiti to mark their territory.
Territory: Mostly in Los Angeles, the western and southern areas of the United States, and Central America
Ethnicity: Hispanic, black, white
Membership: 8,000 - 20,000
Allies: Sureños (Sur 13), Florencia 13, Mexican Mafia
Rivals: Norteños, Bloods, Clanton 14, Culver City Boyz, Longos, MS-13
Criminal activities: Drug trafficking, assault, robbery, rum running, prostitution, extortion, arms trafficking, murder, contract killing, illegal gambling, vandalism, producing fake ids, and producing fake food stamps