Mara Salvatrucha MS-13
Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, was formed in the early 1980s in Los Angeles, by Salvadoran immigrants as a self-defense mechanism against rival Mexican gangs. The organization has about 30,000 members, 8,000 – 10,000 of which exist in the US. The majority of the gang is comprised of Salvadorans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans. MS-13 is well known for drug smuggling, black market gun sales, theft, contract k!lling and human trafficking. Members distinguish themselves by tattoos covering the body and the face, as well as the use of their own sign language. They are notorious for their use of violence and a sub cultural moral code that predominantly consists of merciless revenge and cruel retributions. MS-13 has their largest prison populations in California and New York. A small taste of the heartless crimes performed by this gang occurred on June 22, 2008 in San Francisco, California. A 21-year old MS-13 gang member, Edwin Ramos, shot and k!lled a father, Anthony Bologna, 48, and his two sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, after their car briefly blocked Ramos from completing a left turn down a narrow street as they were returning home from a family barbecue. Ramos was met with praise by his fellow members after being sentenced to life in prison.
Black Guerrilla Family
The Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) was founded in 1966 by George Jackson in the San Quentin State Prison in California. The group is extremely antigovernment and anti-official. The BGF is the most “politically” oriented of the major prison gangs. It was formed as a Marxist/Maoist/Leninist revolutionary organization with stated goals to eradicate racism, struggle to maintain dignity in prison and overthrow the U.S. Government. As may have been guessed from the name, all members must be black. The BGF has a very strict [rip] oath which requires a life pledge of loyalty to the gang and prospective members must be nominated by an existing member. The BGF members must get a tattoo using different versions of a dragon surrounding a prison tower and holding a correctional officer in its clutches. Although the BGF experienced a decline in membership and strength in the 90s, it has recently reorganized and gained substantial power and growth due to its alignment with the 415s, Crips, Bloods and Black Gangster Disciples.
The Mexican Mafia was formed in the late 1950′s within the California Department of Corrections, and is one of the oldest and most powerful prison gangs in the United States. It is well known for its drug trafficking, extortion and murk. The gang often uses the number 13 as gang identification, as it represents the 13th letter of the alphabet, the letter M. The largest population of the Mexican Mafia is in California and Texas. In San Antonio, members are responsible for 10% of the cities total homicide rate. The sole objective of the Mexican Mafia is to earn money through criminal operations. The Mexican Mafia’s Constitution, which outlines all aspects of criminal organization and enterprising, was recently described during a 2005 trial. “The Mexican Mafia is a ‘criminal organization’ that works ‘in any criminal aspect or interest for the benefit and advancement of Mexikanemi. We shall deal in drugs, contract k!llings, prostitution, large-scale robbery, gambling, weapons and everything imaginable.”
It goes on to declare that the only punishment approved by the organization is [rip]. Members of the Mexican Mafia are expected to engage in tests of their loyalty to the gang, which may include theft or murk. The penalty for refusing orders or failing to complete an[..]igned task is often [rip]. According to the gang’s constitution, members may also be punished or murked if they commit any of four major infractions. These include becoming an informant, acts of homosecksuality, acts of cowardice and showing disrespect against fellow gang members. According to gang policy, a member of the Mexican Mafia may not be murked without prior approval by a vote of three members, yet the murk of non-members requires no formal approval. The Mexican Mafia’s founding members were ruthless k!llers, as evidenced in the following transcript:
“By 1961, administrators at DVI, alarmed by the escalating violence, had transferred a number of the Mexican Mafia members to San Quentin, hoping to discourage their violent behavior by intermingling them with hardened adult convicts. It didn’t work. For example, the story goes that Cheyenne Cadena arrived on the lower yard and was met by a six-foot-five, 300-pound black inmate who planted a kiss on his face and announced this scrawny teenager would now be his ‘!!.’ Chy returned a short time later, walked up to the unsuspecting predator, and st@bbed him to [rip] with a jailhouse knife, or shank. There were more than a thousand inmates on the yard. No witnesses stepped forward, and only one dead man entertained the idea that Cadena was anyone’s !!.”
La Nuestra Familia
La Nuestra Familia (Spanish for ‘the family’) was formed in Folsom State Prison, around 1968. It was originally constructed as a force that could combat the existing oppression of the traditionally dominant Mexican Mafia. From their thrones in California’s notorious Pelican Bay State Prison, the leaders of the family control the intra-prison drug and secks trade, while communicating with their members on the outside, ordering hits and organizing smuggling rings. All members must be of Hispanic origin, and there is a “blood-in, blood-out” requirement for membership. Besides this, the initiation process is quite long and complex. It takes at least 2 years for a prospective member to demonstrate their character, potential and righteousness. Because of the length of the process, only those convicted of very serious offenses, such as murk or armed robbery, are successfully recruited into the gang. This results in a very dangerous group. A top ranking La Nuestra Familia gang member was released from prison in early 2000, and must not have gotten the memo about the “blood-in, blood-out” policy. His decision to leave the gang and turn his life around was not met very kindly. The leaders put out a hit on him, and he was shot at close range in the head just five days after being released from prison.
Also known as the AB, Aryan Brotherhood is a white supremacist group that was formed in 1967, at San Quentin prison in California. They currently have approximately 15,000 members, in and out of prison. Initially formed for the protection of whites against blacks in prison, the gang gradually moved to becoming a criminal enterprise. The AB are concerned with white-supremacy, and are a ruthless gang who regularly murk those who oppose the system, growing so out of control at times, that even their own ranking members could not consider themselves safe. In prison, they strive to control the sale of drugs, gambling, and “punks,” or male prostitutes. The Aryan Brotherhood has carried out contract k!llings for the Mexican Mafia, but racist beliefs prevent members from consorting with African Americans, including even taking a cigarette or a candy bar from them. The only way to be a member is to abide by their philosophy of “Blood In – Blood Out.” -Kill somebody to become a member and die to part from it. AB members make up approximately 1% of the prison population nationwide, but are responsible for up to 18% of murks in the federal prison system.