The Florence Street Gang, or Florencia 13, is arguably one of the largest hispanic gangs in Los Santos County. The gang was first formed in the late 1940s by the children of EAST LS residents who decided to move after the zoot suit riots. The gang first started off as a neighborhood patrol to combat the much larger African american street gangs who preyed on the much smaller hispanic demographic at the time. Contrary to popular belief the gang originally derived its name from Florence Avenue, a major street that cuts through the neighborhood near Roosevelt Park, and not the Florence district. Seeing as Florence was also a woman's name the gang adopted the cultural tradition to request radio stations to play the 1950s doo-wop song, "Florence" by the Paragons as a way to let their enemies know they were posted up in the streets.
Mexican Mafia ties
Florencia 13's ruthless mentality is heighted due its allegiance to the mexican mafia, or La eMe, one of the most powerful prison gangs in america. The gang pays the mafia tribute with money earned from selling drugs and the extortion of small businesses, drug dealers, and street vendors. Florencia's impact in the mafias infantile stages were crucial in the prison gangs early on success.
Running a criminal organization while locked inside one of America's most secure prisons requires imagination, cunning and ruthlessness. It also demands a firm set of rules and a way to impose them on operatives on the streets, often violent and obstreperous gang members. Arturo Castellanos, florencia's current shot caller, does just that.
A secret letter allegedly sent from an inmate at High Desert State Prison in Northern San Andreas to members of Florencia 13 on the streets, details a covert network that has enriched the the Mexican Mafia.
The note was originally written in tiny script on a small scrap of paper known as a “kite,” smuggled out of High Desert, recopied and then distributed to street gang members, according to federal prosecutors who are using it as evidence in a major crackdown in Los Santos.
The letter outlines rules, or reglas, drawn up by Mexican Mafia members for associates operating on the streets. They include:
- How street gangs and their sub-groups are governed, including the election of a president and vice president by “majority votes.”
- How drug sales, prostitution and other illegal activities are organized and “taxed,” with a percentage going to gang leaders behind bars.
- How disputes are settled.
- How assaults and murders are authorized.
- How snitches and sex offenders are rooted out and punished.
The most notorious mafia associate from Florencia 13 was Trinidad "Trini" Iglesias, a active member who gained notoriety after assaulting a estimated 14 police officers in the Firestone area. He was charged for his involvement in the killing of a Deputy in 1971. The story goes that after a brief foot chase, Trinidad got into a physical altercation with Deputy Gary Saunders on 70th & Hooper, after being overpowered by Trinidad, Gary's own service pistol was used to kill him. According to Los Santos Police, Trinidad was also involved in the murder of a Glen Park Narcotics officer who was shot in face as he used a urinal in a public bathroom.
The crack epidemic
Crack cocaine first began to be used on a massive scale in Los Santos in 1984. Between February and July 1984 cocaine abuse and related violence had exploded to unprecedented levels in the city, and by 1985, crack was available in most of the major American cities. Los Santos, where the crack cocaine problem was the worst in the country, became the site of many police raids and gang feuds that have lasted till this day
At height of the american crack epidemic, Florencia 13, like many other gangs ,were at their peak. The boundaries of their hood were growing at a alarming rate as they battled neighboring gangs for control of South Central LS. It was common to find junkies to be seen wandering the streets of the Florence district in search of their next hit. The C.R.A.S.H force had little effect on the neighborhood as it continued to define itself as the largest and most violent Hispanic gang in the city.
Racially motivated gang war?
It's still not certain what sparked the war between F13 & ECC, one belief is that after a Florencia 13 drug connection was robbed for a large quantity of drugs by East Coast Crip members, the Mexican mafia shot caller for F13 at the time ordered the gang to wage an all out war again the East Coast Crips. Another story as to how the war started was that a F13 member gunned down the younger brother of a East Coast shot caller over his bike being stolen outside a swap meet.
Be it by a robbery or a stolen bike, the war between F13 and ECC has been one of Los Santos' most drawn out and bloodiest gang war with 80 gang-related shootings in the past three years, including 20 murders. Federal indictments have alleged that Florencia 13 went after african americans in a attempt to "cleanse" their turf of blacks on Mexican Mafia orders. True or not, the feud has caused racial tension on both sides throughout the entire war. Innocent bystanders have not seen mercy from the wars ruthlessness, one of the most heinous is when a young pregnant black woman and her boyfriend were publicly shot to death in a grocery store’s checkout line.
Florencia 13 Today
Even though Los Santos' gang epidemic has somewhat toned down since the 90s, Florencia 13 still remains the largest hispanic gang in LS. The gang now starts recruitment as early as junior high, waves of young teens flock to the gang just for a chance to gain notoriety among their peers by claiming Florencia. The gang, contrary to the belief that they're a racist , actively recruit african americans from the Florence area. Florence cliques on the western side of their hood are known to share turf with african-american blood gangs out of the hate they share for crips. These cliques are known to sport red clothing and use blood-lingo from time to time. F13 is known to beef with all surrounding crip neighborhood and the majority of nearby hispanic neighborhoods as well. The police crackdown has only increased in recent years due to a wave of gang injunctions. These crackdowns seem futile as Florencia 13 continues its expansion in Los Santos.
Credits: Señor Ruiz