In 2010 a coworker introduced me to Rene, a member of the “Sureños” gang in the Bronx. Made up of first and second generation Mexican-Americans, they claim “Sur 13” from the older, more established Chicano gangs in California and have adopted the cholo gangster style popular there. Sureños (sur means south in Spanish) are a loosely affiliated conglomeration of street gangs connected to the Mexican Mafia prison gang. In the Bronx, the group’s numbers are small. Although they are involved in small-scale crimes and gang warfare, at the time I met them they hadn’t risen to the level of organized criminality of their affiliates on the West Coast. They told me how Mexicans are often looked down upon in the cultural hierarchy here in New York, that street gangs target them because they are known to work for cash as laborers or in the service industry and don’t have the protection citizenship papers provide. They are looked at as easy targets with no community recourse. These guys wanted to change those dynamics.