The Mexican Mafia

26.09.2019 in Research Paper
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The scope of this research paper is to shed light on the most powerful and well-organized criminal organization, the Mexican Mafia. This paper will cover the history of the Mexican Mafia’s criminal activities, racial makeup, and other meaningful information. For over forty years, the Mexican Mafia has been involved in criminal activities such as extortion, drug trafficking, murder, and contract assassinations both in and outside the United States. The Mexican Mafia creates new and more challenging operations across the country on a day-to-day basis. This research paper will address the dramatic increase of the Mexican Mafia gang and the repercussions this has towards the correctional institutions. In addition, this article will explain the recruitment and organizational structure of the Mexican Mafia. Lastly, this paper will discuss the origin of the Mexican Mafia’s drug trafficking operation and how this criminal activity affects the gang’s day-to-day operations as a criminal organization.

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History and Influence across the Country

The Mexican Mafia is a criminal organization based in the United States of America. Although the name of the organization can be easily associated with Mexico, it neither originates from nor operates in Mexico. The Mexican Mafia is entirely based in the United States. Maguire (1999) describes the Mexican Mafia as a highly-organized and well-structured organization involved in criminal activities, in the United States of America. The Mexican Mafia is also known as La Eme that is the Spanish name for the letter M. The Mexican Mafia was founded in 1957 by a group of thirteen street gang members who lived in Los Angeles. The founding gang members were Hispanics serving as prisoners in Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, California. The founding members of the Mexican Mafia were bound together by a religion that was established before the Hispanic cultural period. The gang’s core included Maravilla street gang members. The core called itself Mexikanemi. This was Aztec for a person who walked with God in his heart (Maguire, 1999). The Mexican Mafia mainly comprises street gangs members of Hispanic origin. The group is highly discriminative and segregates itself from people of other races.

The original objective of the Mexican Mafia was to provide protection to its members against the prison staff, African American convicts, and other inmates. The group exercised a form of gladiator training, which they referred to as the Deuel (Trulson, Marquart, Hemmens, & Carroll, 2008). The Deuel enabled members of the organization to perfect in self-defense and fighting skills; for example, they learnt how to kill the prison staff using various weapons that they made by hand. The Deuel also enabled members to learn how to traffic and deal drugs.

Over time, the Mexican Mafia grew to become a fully fledged criminal organization that took part in trafficking of drugs such as narcotics and extortion and murder within the prisons. They were also able to commit these crimes outside the correctional system institutions. Today, the Mexican Mafia has approximately four hundred active members and one thousand associates who support the active members in committing criminal activities of the group. According to Albanese (2009), the criminal activities of the Mexican mafia have spread from the confines of California to neighboring states such as New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. It is also considered by the law enforcement officials in the United States as the most powerful gang within correctional institutions in California (Allender & Marcell, 2003).

The Mexican Mafia has had the greatest influences within and outside the prison systems in California and the United States as a whole. The major influences of the Mexican Mafia are crime-related. For example, the group has been responsible for executing numerous contract killings within the U.S., massive drug trafficking and distribution, violent behaviors against prison staff, and other inmates and increased homosexuality prostitution within the prison systems. Outside the correctional institutions, the members of the Mexican Mafia have been responsible for committing homicides in areas, such as the Los Angeles Highland Park and increased drug trafficking and distribution within California and the neighboring states.

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Organizational Structure of the Mexican Mafia

The structure of the Mexican Mafia is not bureaucratic; hence, the organization presently lacks a single leader. The authority to order murders and supervise criminal activities committed by group members lies with different members who may be located in different regions. Non-members who are involved in the activities of the Mafia are referred to by the group as associates. All members of the Mexican Mafia are mandated to undertake a test in order to assess their loyalty to the group. According to Allender and Marcell (2003), members of the group who failed to execute orders were usually killed. Death was also considered as a penalty for the members, who did not obey the rules of the Mafia, for instance, by engaging in leaking information to the law enforcement authorities, homosexuality, cowardice, and disrespect against the fellow members. According to Hargen and Shuman (2011), a member of the group would be punished through murder upon approval by a vote of three members.

The Mexican Mafia and Drug Trafficking in the U.S.

Today, drug trafficking is the core activity of the Mexican Mafia, and its members are considered as some of major drug traffickers in the United States. The foundation of drug trafficking by the Mexican Mafia was developed by Joe “Pegleg” Morgan, who was also known as the White Godfather of the Mexican Mafia. Joe Morgan had strong links with suppliers of heroin and cocaine in Mexico. Although he had a good knowledge of Mexico, Joe Morgan was not a Mexican (Rafael, 2011).

In 1977, the Mexican Mafia was able to siphon money from a program that was established by Ellen Delia to prevent alcohol and drug use in the United States (Rafael, 2011). This was considered the most aggressive action by a street gang in the history of the U.S. In 2010, the law enforcement officials raided the home of one of the leaders of the gang and exposed how the group conducted drug trafficking. It was discovered that the drug trafficking network for the Mexican Mafia extended from inside the vista jails and North County to other regions (Diana, John, & Angela, 2007). It was also revealed that the Hispanic gangs were controlled by Rudy Espudo, who forced all narcotic dealers to pay taxes to the Mexican Mafia. Other local gangs were also required to smuggle drugs into the Vista Detention Centre for sale to the members of the Mexican Mafia (Albanese, 2009). Although drug trafficking is the core activity of the Mexican Mafia, the law enforcement agencies have managed to control it through crackdowns and anti-operational measures such as the Operation Smoking Aces of 2013 (Hagen & Shuman, 2011).


For my part, I would argue that the Mexican Mafia is not a unique gang. It operates just like other street gangs. Thus, the gang has prospered in California and beyond simply because of a gap in society. For instance, the group took advantage of poor conditions and poverty in prisons to lure and recruit inmates into drug trafficking by providing them with constant incomes. Therefore, it is important to ensure that such loopholes in society are sealed when dealing with illegal groups or gangs. It is also important to tame such gangs at the early stages before they grow and prosper in order to prevent their adverse influences on society.

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