Florencia 13, also known as F-13, is a Mexican-American street gang that controls Firestone in Los Angeles, California. It has 2,500 members, and is the largest Hispanic gang in L.A., with their sights set on total domination. They run 3 square miles of Los Angeles, known as the Florence/Firestone District. They are involved in murder, burglary, auto theft, as well as drug dealing, and they use violence to control the entire neighborhood. Florencia 13 is rivals with the African-American gangs of the city (as are most Hispanic gangs), with the Crips (whose turf borders Firestone to the left) being their main enemy. Their sets/cliques include the F-13 Jokers, F-13 Mandipos, F-13 Locos, F-13 Assassinos, F-13 Tokers, and F-13 Midgets, among 30 cliques of 300-400 members. Their members have to endure two beatings as a rite of passage - one for the gang, and one for the clique, each for 30 seconds.
Florencia 13 was founded back in the 1950s, ten years after the first wave of Mexican immigrants, many of whom wanted to work on the railroads from San Pedro to Long Beach (poor African-Americans and whites came in the 1930s). Florencia 13 named itself after Florence Avenue, a major street near Roosevelt Park. The gang was created by young Mexicans who wanted to defend themselves from African-Americans, who made up the majority of their neighborhood in South-Central Los Angeles. They wanted their own separate gangs so they formed a group of men to defend their turf. They adopted the hit song "Florence" by The Paragons, a black group from Jamaica, as a rallying call for violence, and they looked to stand out, whatever it took. In the late 1950s, La Eme began recruiting Hispanic inmates to fight the black inmate populations, and F-13's leaders joined the ranks, becoming one of the oldest gangs in L.A. The sealed their allegiance to La Eme by adding "13" to their name" as "M" in La "Eme" is the 13th letter of the alphabet. By the 1960s, they had hundreds of gangsters in the gang. The rules of the neighborhood were to be quiet, and nobody was willing to oppose the gang. In 1971, 21-year-old Trinidad "Tray" Iglesias took it to another level, assaulting 14 Los Angeles Police Department officers. On 22 May 1971, he killed deputy Gary Sonders near Florence and Holmes Avenues, and the message was clear - F-13 was afraid of nobody. The most that the LAPD could do was put the gangsters in the prison for life, which would mean that they got to hang out with La Eme in jail.
In the 1980s, F-13 bolstered its ranks by recruiting a new wave of Latino immigrants to the area. Racial tensions grew, and F-13 pushed into black sections of South-Central, and they went head-to-head with the black gangs. Florencia 13 is now mainly based in Firestone, a neighborhood originally dominated by African-Americans; now, Hispanics make up 90% of the population. F-13 has expanded its turf into Huntington Park and South Watts, and they do not hesitate to defend their turf. They are mortal enemies of the Crips, who live in the turf to the west of theirs. One of their members, Gary Nava (known as "Big Scrappy"), was known for his rule-less killing of Crips since 1990, regardless of the law. He looked for every opportunity to kill a rival, including a shooting at a black party, where his friends fired at the crowd. Nobody was killed, but a woman was shot. In 1995, Big Scrappy bought a Micro-Uzi submachine gun and headed north to hunt down some Nortenos, the Mexican gangs from northern California. He wanted to go on a killing spree and make a name for himself, but he instead stopped off to do cocaine with his friends. He played with the gun while he was high, and his friend was killed by a few shots to the chest. He was arrested for causing bodily harm/death, and sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Their ruthless mentality is due to their loyalty to the powerful Mexican Mafia prison gang, 90% of whose members are in jail. F-13 funnels then a large flow of cash through the selling of drugs and the taxing of street vendors and businesses. Later in the 1990s, the Mexican Mafia wanted more structure, leadership, and money, and they issued directives to Florencia 13. Their edicts included asking for the loyalty of the Surenos gangs, the taxing of drug dealers, and the squeezing of legal and illegal businesses for protection money. La Eme collected all of the money that they could from the park ice cream vendor to the jewellery stores, and F-13 turned its control to taking over the drug trade. They took over the neighborhood's cliques, and by 2004, they had almost 2,000 members and made tens of millions of dollars. However, the Crips were still a threat to them, and Arturo "Tablas" Castellanos ordered F-13 to cleanse Florence-Firestone of black gangs, who were encroaching on the drug trade. The F-13 Jokers set, one of the oldest and most-respected cliques (which had the drug connections), began hunting down the bigest drug libels, the Crips or any African-American if they could not find any gangsters.
F-13 is all about selling guns, weapons, drugs, and making money. They also earn cash from the sale of forged immigration documents, with social security cards, passports, or green cards being some of them. They work hard to stay on top of their empire, with several enforcers, gun runners, and lawyers from La Eme. F-13's members have to endure two beatings (lasting 30 seconds each) - one for the gang, and one for the set. Their members abide by reglas (rules of conduct), and they usually have the tattoo "F-13" on their bodies, mainly on their foreheads (throwing their declaration of loyalty in other gang members' faces).
In June 2005, LAPD detectives monitored Alberto "Sugar" Hernandez and Manuel "Frog" Hernandez through wiretaps in "Operation Joker's Wild", and they found out that F-13 drives down their enemies' turf just to ambush them. Frog found Romeo Bryant, a 32-year-old African-American walking home from work, and he asked the man where he was from. The man stated that he was innocent and not a gang member, but Frog gunned him down in a drive-by, wounding him. Investigators realized that F-13 was targeting all blacks, and they realized that the Mexican Mafia was responsible for these orders. There was a rash of murders that year, with gang drive-by shootings being the main method of violenceof the Jokers was dismantled, but with 2,000 members, F-13 remains strong. In 2009, city prosecutors used a gang injunction against hundreds of F-13 members, putting 7 miles of South-Central in an LAPD safety zone. This meant that all gangsters in the area could be arrested for being in public, and authorities are using all means possible to put the gang down. Helicopters and automated license plate readers detected many license plates of cars that were involved in crimes. The most active gang members were