09/23/2013 06:55 pm ET Updated Nov 23, 2013

The Peace Treaty of Sur 13 Gangs

In the summer of 1993, the Mexican Mafia declared a peace treaty amongst all Mexican-American Sur 13 gangs in southern California. The goal was to end long-term rivalries, reduce gang violence, promote peace and security, and pursue economic interests. In order for this type of political reeducation to take shape, several meetings, like press conferences, were to take place all across the region to slowly introduce the concept. The first collective meeting was held in Elysian Park, adjacent to Dodger's Stadium in the City of Los Angeles, where every gang throughout the county was to be present so that the basic principles of the treaty would be conveyed, and where concerns would be addressed. Afterwards, streets gangs were separated into regional blocs, i.e. Westside, Eastside, Harbor Area, San Fernando Valley, etc., where social and economic concerns were discussed, and where political ideas were introduced. This marked the beginning of the advanced political culture of Sur 13 gangs. From one day to the next, shot-callers, or the leadership in the organization, were creating city council-like structures with mayors and city managers.

Since most street gangs were already divided into cliques, like political parties, they were required to choose members who would be considered representatives, and who would liaison between high-ranking officials. These representatives mostly had elitist-theory type behaviors, served time in prison, had infamous reputations, and had good diplomacy skills, and also rotated positions like actual political organizations with term limits. The main duty of the representative was to collect taxes from individual members and allocate resources to different budgeting principles like weapons, drugs, colleagues in prison, and to the Mexican Mafia. Inadvertently, they learned the principles behind trickle-up economics where the flow of money went from the bottom to the top. Before the peace treaty, gang members were basically loosely-organized individuals who sporadically clashed and engaged in urban warfare with nearby enemies, however, the treaty encouraged dialogue, collective decision-making, and unified goals.

Another major change during the peace treaty accord was territorial adjustment. Most gang members didn't know anything about geopolitics or districting, but soon many small autonomous gangs were losing territory and having to join a bigger street gang, and many interest groups like tagging, graffiti, and party crew associations were either to become street gangs or join, or face collective urban warfare. Most decided to join. The result was a more organized, collective group of Sur 13 gang members with allegiance to the region, better and increased taxation opportunities, and less violence amongst the Hispanic community. However, with all that built up aggression after years of hatred and anger, Hispanic street gangs were encouraged to channel it amongst the African American gangs throughout the city. And so began an unprecedented sharp division between Hispanic and Black gangs, on and off, that has existed for many years, but luckily today, gang membership and crime is at an all-time low throughout the City of Los Angeles.