Sureños (Spanish for "Southerners") are a group of Mexican American street gangs
with origins in the oldest barrios of Southern California. There are hundreds of Sureño
gangs in California, and each has its own identity on the streets.
Although they are based in Southern California, their influence has spread to
many parts of the US and other countries as well.
The gang's alleged roots came from a jail discussion between the Mexican Mafia (La EME)
and Nuestra Familia (NF).Those who sided with La EME aligned themselves in the south
(sureño=southerner) while those that sided with the NF aligned themselves in Northern
California (norteños=northeners). Besides Southern California, Sureños can be found in
more than 30 states (primarily in southwestern and central states). Norteños appear mostly
in the northern areas of California, but are also present in numbers in other states
The term “sureños” describes gangs professing allegiance to a gang set in southern
A derogatory term for sureños is the word "scrap".
The term was first used in the 1970s as a result of a California prison war between
the Mexican Mafia (La EME) and Nuestra Familia (NF). This war resulted in a territorial
division between gang members from northern California (norteños = northerners) who
aligned with NF, and those from southern California (sureños = southerners) aligned
with La EME.
Symbols and culture
Sureños emblems and clothing are based on the color blue.A typical Sureño outfit might
include, blue, silver, and white and their favorite sports team apparel that shows their
affiliation. Sureños use the number 13 in tattoos and graffiti.
It is sometimes written as "X3", or in Roman numerals as "XIII".
(Sur13 or Sur XIII) Some Sureños will tattoo themselves with three dots. Sureños
derogatorily refers to a Norteño as a "Buster" or "Chap" (Chapete).