San Andreas Gangs
Rockstar North conducted massive amounts of research before developing the gangs of San Andreas, research that involved talking to DJ Pooh, Mister Cartoon, Estevan Oriol, and hundreds of other well-known faces. Gangs play a much larger role than they did in Vice City. Firstly, the number of gangs has increased. As well as having the large, dominating gangs, we see smaller, more local gangs. Generally, gangs cause a bit more trouble than they did in previous titles-toppling cars, crowding streets and using various new methods of attack. In some areas of the map, you are welcome, and in others, you are not. San Andreas gives you the ability to 'take over' areas of the map, and recruit new members into your gang to help and defend you. Gang members are recognised by their clothing, tattoos, and hand signs. These are useful for two reasons - it allows police to identify a gang set or victim, and it allows gang members to interact with one another. Each gang has its own territory, indicated by street warnings, wall graffiti, or simply violence. In Los Santos, 2 of the 4 gangs are split up into different 'sets'. This is bad, because not all sets get along, and good, because there's always plenty of backup available.
Gang Wars & Territory
Winning territory involves gang war, and this must be done carefully. Enter the area you wish to control, and kill every opposition member in sight. Killing 3 members ON FOOT will provoke a gang war, and the area under attack will flash red on the radar. The opposition attack in 3 waves to defend their land. Keep a close eye on the radar, and watch where the attackers are coming from. They may attack unexpectantly or in large numbers, so make sure you have a plentiful supply of health and armor before starting the war. If possible, shoot from long distances or from rooftops. Sometimes cars will even turn up with gang members shooting out of the windows doing a drive-by. Survive the 3 waves, and the area is yours. That area is now highlighted green on the map. Other gangs may try and take your territory, and it's up to you to defend it. Gang wars and territory are introduced during Sweet's mission Doberman. After the mission The Green Sabre, CJ no longer has the ability to win new territory, or defend his own. The feature returns during the mission Home Coming, in the Final Missions strand.
Recruiting homies is done through a special command performed based on controls, such as Up on the D-pad whilst targeting a member (PS3), holding the RMB and pressing G (PC), or aiming at a gang member and tapping the "recruit" button (iOS). CJ can recruit a maximum of 7 members at any given time. The maximum number of recruits depends on CJ's respect level. A Coach will hold all 7 members, an Ambulance will carry 6, whereas a typical car, boat, or aircraft will carry a maximum of 2 or 4. Pressing Up on the D-pad while your homies are along will have them follow you. Down on the D-Pad (on PC, the controls used are G and H), and they will stay put until told to do otherwise. Your homies will return fire to those who attack you, and shoot at rival gang members and cops. They will also participate in drive-by shootings, just like Sweet, Smoke and Ryder demonstrate in the mission 'Drive-By'. Don't depend on your homies too much as they aren't very reliable. They can, however, draw fire away from CJ. On PS3, press L1 with the camera to have a picture taken with your homies. To disband the gang, hold Down on the D-pad for a few seconds, or simply abandon them. There is a cheat (sjmahpe) that allows you to recruit any pedestrian, and not just homies. There is also another one that instead of giving them a Pistol to defend themselves/you with, it will give them a Rocket Launcher. This is not recommended though, as there is a large chance that they will accidentally blow themselves (and/or you) up.
The Grove Street Families are a black/Afro-American street gang in Los Santos and used to be the most powerful gang in Los Santos but have been silenced over the past few years by drugs, internal disagreements and their sworn enemies, the Ballas. The Seville Boulevard Families (controlling only a small area in south-east Los Santos) and the Temple Drive Families (controlling western Los Santos territories) have split from the Grove, so just because they're wearing green doesn't mean they are necessarily allies. Whilst these events took place, Vagos and Ballas took over. Everyday, Grove Street gets weaker, and the Ballas get stronger. Grove Street OG's include Sweet (Sean Johnson), Big Smoke (Melvin Harris, formally), Ryder (Lance Wilson, formally) and CJ (Carl Johnson). They are allies with the Varrios Los Aztecas.
The families must re-unite if they are ever to rise again. The Grove Street Families control the areas of Ganton, Playa del Seville, Temple, and Santa Maria Beach. Later in the game, they also take over Glen Park and Idlewood.
They are involved in gang banging, gang warfare, gang-related homicide, murder, gun running/arms dealing, street violence, robbery, protection, and vandalism. Unlike the Ballas and Vagos, they are heavily against drug dealing. They are either unarmed or carry 9mm pistols and Tec9s, they can be seen drinking beer and smoking marijuana while hanging in groups and their gang color is green. If gang members are unarmed when they are recruited to the gang they automatically receive a 9mm pistol. They drive Greenwoods, Savannas and Voodoos and listen to Radio Los Santos. When CJ comes by the jail to pick up Sweet, his brother, some of the GSF gang members have either become addicted to drugs, gone into hiding, left the gang, defected to the Ballas, or were employed by Big Smoke as cash couriers, in addition to drug dealers having a stronghold in Ganton and Grove Street.
The Ballas are the largest and most powerful black/afro-American street gang in Los Santos and have a bitter rivalry with the Grove Street Families. The Ballas come in Four sets - Front Yard Ballas, Rollin' Heights Ballas, Kilo Tray Ballas and the Temple Drive Ballas. The Front Yard Ballas are Los Santos' most notorious drug dealers, Grove Street's biggest rivals and control the areas of Idlewood and East Los Santos. The Rollin Heights Ballas act as backup and control the area of Jefferson, and some parts of Willowfield and East Los Santos. The Kilo Tray Ballas only control the area of Glen Park, and some parts of Willowfield. The Temple Drive Ballas are a much smaller set based in Verona Beach and formerly Temple prior to 1992 (hence their name) until Grove Street took it over. The Ballas eventually lose their Glen Park and Idlewood territory to the Grove Street Families.
The Ballas are battling with their rivals Vagos, Varrios Los Aztecas, and especially the Grove Street Families to control South Central Los Santos. The Ballas have been around since the 1970s - Involved in drug dealing, gang banging, protection, murder, gang warfare, gang-related homicide, robbery, street violence, arms dealing, vandalism, degeneracy, but mainly, the cocaine trade. Mindless, uncontrollable, and have ties with Big Smoke and the Loco Syndicate for drugs (mainly crack cocaine), and the Russian Mafia for weapons.
They can be seen drinking beer and smoking marijuana while hanging in groups, their gang color is purple. They are either unarmed or carry Micro SMGs and 9mm pistols, but when in gang war with them they have AK-47s, MP5s, Shotguns, 9mm pistols, Micro SMGs, and Baseball Bats. In some missions, they are equipped with Tec9s. They can be seen driving Tahomas and Majestics and their favorite radio station is Bounce FM.
Part of their strategy to wipe the Grove Street Families out is to spread crack cocaine into their territory, which they primairly get secretly from Big Smoke. Later in the game, they receive more crack-cocaine from Big Smoke in return for protection of his drug empire.
A small-time Latin/Mexican Los Santos street gang based in the barrios of El Corona and Little Mexico in addition to Unity Station - a popular meeting spot for the Aztecas, distinctly recognised by their turquoise bandanas. They have a major rivalry with the Los Santos Vagos and San Fierro Rifa but are also enemies with the Grove Street Families and the nearby Ballas. They are heavily involved in gun running/arms dealing, street violence, gang banging, gang warfare, gang-related homicide, murder, robbery, vandalism, illegal street racing, and carjacking but are slowly diminishing. The Varrios Los Aztecas are traditionally anti-narcotics and part of their identity is heavily involved in the lowrider culture.
They can be seen drinking beer and smoking marijuana while hanging in groups. They can be seen roaming around in San Fierro. They are either unarmed or carry 9mm pistols and Micro SMGs. Their main involvements are illegal street racing, arms dealing/gun running, and carjacking. Gang veterans include Cesar Vialpando, Jose, Sunny, Gal and Hazer. They drive Broadways, Hermes' and Glendales and their favorite radio station is Playback FM. They are allies with the Grove Street Families.
Despite the fact that Cesar, a high ranking member (may also be the leader), is a friend of the protagonist, this gang will be hostile towards the player and will attack CJ unprovoked.
The Vagos are a large and powerful Mexican Los Santos street gang that sport yellow bandanas, and occupy a majority of the far North and East areas of Los Santos, namely Las Colinas, East Beach, and Los Flores. This Hispanic gang are sworn enemies of the Varrios Los Aztecas but are also enemies with the Grove Street Families and Ballas. They are known to attack in large numbers. Heavily involved in drug trade (especially crack cocaine), gang banging, street violence, arms dealing, gang-related homicide, gang warfare, murder, protection, robbery, and vandalism.
They can be seen drinking beer and smoking marijuana while hanging in groups. They are either unarmed or carry 9mm pistols and Micro SMGs, during a gang war, they are also equipped with MP5s, AK47s, Shotguns, and Baseball Bats. In some missions, they are also equipped with TEC-9s and M4s. The Vagos have a major involvement in Big Smoke's crack business for narcotics in return for protection along with the Ballas - the only situation where the two gangs cooperate. They drive Hermes', Oceanics and Tornados and their favorite radio station is K-DST.
They were strong enemies with the San Fierro Rifa until they joined the narcotics business. From then, the Rifa and Vagos often dealt with narcotics.
This sole Mexican/Hispanic San Fierro street gang control the areas of Garcia, Doherty, King's, and Battery Point. They have become a major hub in the international drugs trade (especially crack cocaine). They are also involved in gang banging, street violence, gang-related homicide, gang warfare, robbery, murder, protection, arms dealing, and vandalism.
They initially held hostility towards all Mexican gangs in Los Santos, but cooperated with the Vagos when they joined the narcotics business - although they still maintain a very strong rivalry with the Varrios Los Aztecas. T-Bone Mendez is the leader of the Rifa. They are either unarmed or carry just 9mm pistols and can be seen drinking beer or smoking blunts while hanging in groups, they can also be identified by their turquoise bandanas much like the Varrios Los Aztecas (but not to be confused with them as they have a strong violent rivalry).
They are the least harmful gang in the game, mostly due to the lack of Micro SMGs. They drive Sabres, Blades and Stallions and their favorite radio station is K-Jah West. They're known for running away from CJ when they are feeling threatened but will often question CJ about his gangbanging status, if the player chooses to respond positively - they will sometimes attack.
Early-on, they act as protection for the Loco Syndicate until they are wiped out. Later, they are hired by Big Smoke for protection of his crack empire in return for drugs.
A Chinese San Fierro based criminal organization helped along by Wu Zi Mu, a blind gentleman, and led by Ran Fa Li. The Triads operate the Four Dragons Casino in Las Venturas, but their main place of work is Chinatown. There are two sets of Triads - The Mountain Cloud Boys, operated by Woozie, and the Red Gecko Tong, led by Ran Fa Li. There was also a third set - the Blood Feathers that were wiped out by the Da Nang Boys.
They are involved in gang warfare, murder, smuggling, extortion, bribery, loansharking, gambling, and illegal street racing. It is revealed that the Triads are against drug dealing (especially crack cocaine).
The Triads are currently in a major war with a Vietnamese street gang known as the Da Nang Boys. They are also on unfriendly terms with the San Fierro Rifa but are not engaged in a full-out war with them - mainly due to their drug involvement. Because of this, the Triads also have a strong dislike to the Loco Syndicate too.
They are either unarmed or carry AK47's and 9mm pistols, in the mission Pier 69, they also carry TEC-9's.They can be recognized by all black smart/suit clothing. They drive Stratums, Elegys and Sultans and their favorite radio station is SF-UR.
The Da Nang Boys are a Vietnamese street gang based in San Fierro, preparing a full move to the United States. They control the dockland/bay area in Easter Basin and parts of Esplanade North often causing violent disturbance. They're currently at a major war with the San Fierro Triads.
They are extremely violent with major interests in protection, smuggling, human trafficking, gang warfare, and arms dealing/gun running. They are either unarmed or carry 9mm pistols and Micro SMGs. In some missions, they also carry Knifes, Shotguns, TEC-9's, and AK47's. They drive Buccaneers, Tampas and Mananas and their favorite radio station is Bounce FM.
Not much else is known about the gang but it is possible that the Snakehead is the leader in the United States.
Three Liberty City based Italian mob families operate in Las Venturas, and each of them have a stake in Caligula's Casino. The Sindacco Family want to do business with the Leone's, and this involves Salvatore pledging 5 million dollars to the Sindaccos. Both gangs argue over who should run the casino, and so Ken Rosenberg (once working with the Forelli's down in Vice City) is put forward as a neutral party. Ken is in the middle of the 3 mob families, so if one attacks the other, Ken will most likely be the target. The Sindaccos are represented by Johnny, and the Forelli's continue causing trouble for the Leone's. The Triads have opened a new casino at the opposite end of The Strip, which will likely feature as competition for Caligula's.
They don't appear in the streets like other gangs do unless with cheats or mods. If using mods, they can be seen wielding Desert Eagles and driving Sentinels, Admirals and Feltzers. Their favorite radio station is WCTR.
The Shining Razors and Butterfly Children are two other Vietnamese gangs mentioned by The Truth to have a presence in Easter Basin, San Fierro, but unlike the Da Nang Boys are not seen and play no role in the storyline.
The Russian Mafia is a Russian criminal organization with a small role on the game, having presence in Los Santos. They only appear in a few missions, being attacked by Carl Johnson and Big Smoke in the Atrium building in Commerce, dealing with the Ballas, and helping them out, along with the Los Santos Vagos and San Fierro Rifa in an attempt to defend Big Smoke's Crack Palace in the final mission, and failing to do so.