SIZE: One of Charlotte's two largest gangs with more than 200 members identified by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.LOCATION: Mostly live and operate in the Central Avenue, Eastway Drive, South Boulevard areas, but their graffiti has been found scattered throughout the city.
ORIGIN: Believed to be the fastest growing gang on the East Coast, it has operated in Charlotte for at least five years. Experts say MS-13 has significant influence on crime in Virginia, Georgia, Maryland and New York. The gang organized in the mid-1980s in Los Angeles. Salvadorans, most of them former soldiers or guerrillas, formed it to protect themselves from rival Latino gangs. Membership has diversified to include people from Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico and, in smaller numbers, blacks.
STRUCTURE: Loosely organized. Police say leadership changes often. Police say, other than leaders, they do not believe formal ranks exist in the gang.
CRIMES: Considered the most violent gang in Charlotte right now. Police have linked members to five killings since March and at least 10 other violent crimes -- including six homicides -- since December 2000. Victims include a store owner, members and associates of other gangs and MS-13s.
CHARACTERISTICS: Colors are blue and white. Members often wear beaded necklaces in these colors, and clothing and tattoos bearing the number 13. Women are not allowed to join but often associate with the gang. Rivals are Sureno 13, 42nd Street Little Criminals, Asian Boys.
SIZE: One of Charlotte's two largest gangs, with more than 125 members identified by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police as of December 2002. The actual number of Kings is believed to be about 500. Many don't know each other.
LOCATION: Mostly in northern and west Charlotte.
ORIGIN: Started in Charlotte. Members say two gang members from California moved to Charlotte separately, met, and decided to start the Kings about 10 years ago. Most members are black males.
STRUCTURE: Sets mostly represent neighborhoods where members live: Hidden Valley Kings, Cedar Green Kings, Wilmore Kings, Tuckaseegee Kings, Westside Kings.
CRIMES: Members have been known to sell crack cocaine, rob people and businesses, break into homes and steal cars. A 13-year-old King was killed in August 2002 while riding in a stolen car during a drive-by shooting.
CHARACTERISTICS: Many wear plain white T-shirts. Sometimes wear black bandanas. Members memorize gang "prayers" and "knowledge." Leaders are called "Superiors." Associate closely with Queens, a female gang that includes many sisters and girlfriends of Kings.
SIZE: Police identified 67 members as of December 2002. Believe membership to be among the city's six largest.
LOCATION: Spread throughout Charlotte with a high concentration near Pineville.
ORIGIN: A Los Angeles-based gang. Some members came to Charlotte for criminal opportunities, mostly drug trafficking. Police believe some subgroups here are not connected with the West Coast group.
STRUCTURE: Subgroups, or "sets," often take a surname to identify with the area where they live or conduct criminal activity. Police have identified Asian Crip Boys, Asian Crips, Charlotte Crip Boys, Laos Crips, Laotian Crips, Southside Crips.
CRIMES: Known by police to be involved in auto theft, drug trafficking, gun violations, assaults and larceny from automobiles in Charlotte.
CHARACTERISTICS: Preferred color is blue. Often wear blue bandanas as "flags." Leaders called "OGs" or "Original Gangsters." Called "Crabs" by rival gangs. Consider Bloods their rival. Often will put an "X" on any red clothing they wear as a show of disrespect to Bloods. Will mark through the letter "B" when writing. Consider Kings "cousins" although disputes occur between the two gangs.
NOTORIETY: Snoop Dogg, one of the highest-selling rap artists, became a member of the gang as a teen. He was acquitted of murder in the 1993 death of a rival gang member.
42nd Street Little Criminals (42LC)
SIZE: Police identified 35 members as of December 2002. They believe nearly 100 were active in Charlotte at that point, but many have been deported or incarcerated.LOCATION: Mostly operate along Central Avenue, Eastway Drive, South Boulevard.
ORIGIN: A traditional-style gang believed to be organized on 42nd Street in Los Angeles. Brought to Charlotte by gang members who moved from the West Coast. Also use names 42LC and FSLC.
STRUCTURE: Loosely organized by neighborhood but mostly follow the same leaders.
CRIMES: Police say the gang is involved in auto theft, drug trafficking, gambling, vandalism, intimidation and shootings.
CHARACTERISTICS: Majority of members and associates are Latino. Preferred color is blue. Often wear their heads bald and get them tattooed. Many wear long belts that hang to their knee. Consider MS-13 rivals.
SIZE: Police had identified 26 members as of December 2002. Some officers believe about 50 live here.
LOCATION: Live and operate mostly in the Eastway Drive, Central Avenue, and South Boulevard areas.
ORIGIN: Began in southern California. Membership is predominantly Latino, including many Hondurans and Salvadorans. Also known as SUR 13, or SUR Trece.
STRUCTURE: Organized into small groups but operate under the same leadership.
CRIMES: Police say the gang is involved in robbery, theft, drug sales and petty crime.
CHARACTERISTICS: Colors are blue and white. Some wear blue bandana or long blue belts that hang to their knee. They associate with Brown Pride members and some Crip gangs. Consider MS-13 rivals.
SIZE: Though few members have been officially identified, police believe membership ranks among the six largest in Charlotte.
LOCATION: North Charlotte, Beatties Ford Road, Oaklawn areas.
ORIGIN: South Central Los Angeles-based.
STRUCTURE: Nationwide, hundreds of sets or individual gangs exist. Here they often take a surname of the area in which they live.
CRIMES: Crack cocaine trade and homicide. Last year, a Blood shot a King gang member in the leg after the King pulled a red bandana from the Blood's pocket and stomped on it.
CHARACTERISTICS: Preferred color is red. Called "Slobs" by rival gangs. Consider Crips rivals.
NOTORIETY: Los Angeles police say Marion "Suge" Knight, who heads the rap label Death Row Records, has ties to the Bloods.