Thursday, August 27, 2009

MS-13: Mara Salvatrucha Trece-Links & Notes

Not really a post, just a research bibliography for my own work. Updated November 27, 2009.

With a Central American connection, now from Canada through significant parts of the U.S., Mexico, and Central America. The strategic geographic placement gives them ample chances to rule illegal drug and labor markets (immigration). This explains FBI interest, since MS is not as large a gang. They've also grabbed location fairly quickly. This is also why they've been sensationalized as the "deadliest" gang.

They say the extensive tattooing pictured below is now discouraged, since it signifies affiliation all too well. That is borne out in the National Geographic videos posted below, where few people have visible tats. But it also seems that this gang is more wrapped up in identity than most gangs, what with the tattoos (and choices of weapons?) Or, it may be that differences in weaponry and tattooing are based on regional factors.

Some of the imagery of the gangs appears to be an answer to the LK: Jokers rather than Kings. Like, the wild cards of the deck.

--2009, November 25 WashPost "3 Men with ties to MS-13 indicted in death of Md. man."
--2009, November 6 Police One "MS-13 puts out hit on ICE agent". From NY Daily News.
--2009, October 27  WashExaminer "Gangs flee North Virginia for havens in DC, Maryland."
**2009, IPS "El Salvador: Gangs recruiting younger & younger members." According to this article, the Salvadoran "cliques" are doing away with the "jump-out", a 13-second hazing that consists of a beating from already-initiated gang members.
**2005, October 30  LA Times "Gang uses deportation to it's advantage to flourish in the US." This is a fantastic article about the new revolving door, numbers, and migration patterns within the U.S.
--2005, March 31  WTOP 103.5 FM "Machetes becoming weapons of choice for N. Va gangs." (!)

Photos: (credits)
Credit: indymedia ireland, photo from Managua, Nicaragua
Credit: Washington Examiner, photo from Silver Spring, MD

There are a few sites, (not good ones) that assert October 30, 2005, was MS "Kill a Law Enforcement Officer Day." I am inclined, due to poor reporting, to discount this--especially since the LA Times missed it on the day in question. The sensationalism seems to have spread through fringe groups in the immigration agenda.
The motto: "Mata, Controla, Viola" (kill, control, rape).

This video is a picture series of extensive tattoos, some hand signals. The most important picture here is the one that shows a member of MS 13 in front of a computer keyboard. That picture shows that MS-13 has the capability to access the same information and communications systems as anyone else who has an interest in city affairs, labor relations, and international trade.

National Geographic: If you discount sensationalism, a pretty good series. 51 minutes long.

Web Sites:
--Federal Bureau of Investigation, "MS-13: A Threat Assessment." a page with other links to Federal reporting and programs. The FBI's audience here is primarily middle-class parents, and as such is not giving its best threat assessment in these pages (or in their 2009 report). They do have the international aspect of law enforcement somewhat covered in these pages.

**Know Gangs. com on Mara Salvatrucha, linking it historically to conflicts in El Salvador. Good.

--Logan, Samuel P. has written a book on MS-13. This is the Web site for the book. (The book is categorized True Crime rather than Criminology.)

**MS-13 News & Analysis. An entire Web blog devoted to MS-13 and news related to the gang. Wonderful resource for serious students of its international character..

--Wikipedia, "Mara Salvatrucha"

ALKQN Latin Kings & Queens Links and Notes

Just research notes for my use. Updated November 28, 2009.

IMHO: In general, the Wikipedia article, the NGCRC article by Knox, plus some number of visual aids tells you everything that's on the net. There's a lot of repetition in the visual aids, which shows that the research isn't deep enough on visual items. Most of the photographs and sites concentrate on Chicago, but most of the videos about New York.

People Nation or set, but may have moved past the set as the LK is very large. (a little red, no blue).
January 6th--King's Holy Day (or is it Epiphany, from the Church Calendar?)
First week of March "King's Week."

"ADR" in graffiti = "Amor del Rey" or the Love of the King.
360 = "360 degrees strong".

--2009 Nov. 25--WashPost--"Arrest of 19 Maryland Royal Lions Chapter of Latin Kings"
--2008, June 15--NYDailyNews--"How one Latin Queen mother saved herself and kids." NYC.
--2007, The Independent(UK)--"The Mob comes to Spain with trial of Latin Kings." Article observes that Barcelona has named the LK a "heritage organization" an Ecuadorian connection. Three LK leaders (2 men, one woman) indicted in Madrid.
--2005, August 18--NYDailyNews--"Latin Kings Leader Indicted"  King Lucky in NY State.
**2003, March 3--ChrSciMonitor--"A street gang with MBA order and Mafia cruelty." Testimony on an LK to LK homicide in San Antonio.
--1997, Nov. 20-- New York Times--"Man of vision or of violence? Where gang leader talks Peace, Police Just See Talk."  About "King Tone" in NYC.

Credit: 20 minutos. es for the 5-pointed star sign.
Credit: avm.gangs.tripod .com for King with a Tear.

"Black and gold with the five dots on my hand" . . . . from a music video.

--A photo series:

--On YouTube, a lot of photo series of LK gatherings, with faces disguised--or not (!), mostly in Texas, New York, and Chicago, set to rap music. The rap music doesn't always seem to fit.

--These videos are documentaries from a series "Gangland" (Episode Four) uploaded onto DailyMotion. These videos should be watched with skepticism--1. The video doesn't differentiate between documentary footage and over-dramatized re-enactment. 2. Some of the members may be newbies or low-rank, or possibly giving some mis-information. Still, they're worth a look if watched critically.
Called 1/3 on YouTube
Called 2/3.
Called 3/3

Web Sites  (best ones are marked with asterisks)
**Florida Department of Corrections site. A good flashcard for tattoos, graffiti.
--Gang on Chicago LK.
--Know Gangs. com (undated article) "Chicago PD estimates 25,000 members".

**National Gang Crime Resource Center article, 2000, updated 2008, author George Knox. Good source, but no pictures and visually hard to read. Includes reports from interviews and some basic stats.

--From  "The Latin Kings have the easier way to communicate that you'll find in gangs:hand signs. The FBI believes that the gang has more than 5000 hand signs. The main symbol of the gang is the five point crown, five point star, the "lord"  the picture of the King of cards with a black tear in his right eye.
Their colors are black and gold representing life and death. Also, if you mix the two colors together, you'll have the color brown, of which most of its members are." site on the Latin Kings, with links to other educational sites. Some links are broken.
**Wikipedia has a good quality, thorough article.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Los Surenos--Sur Trece-Links and Notes

Nuestra Familia comes before Surenos in year of origin, but I want to finish up the Mexican Mafia affiliations first.  This is an annotated bibliography, notes and sources. Not really a post. Updated December 5, 2009.
Items noted with asterisks ** are especially good.

Sureno means Southerner, as in Southern California. Sur=South. The 'n' should have a tilde over it to make the ny sound  (Sur-ayn-yo). Since they are extremely affiliated with the Mexican Mafia, their signs usually include the XIII, 13 or X3, Trece, or 3ce. (M is the 13th letter of the alphabet.)

The origin of the gang and its main rival, the Nortenos, arises out of a dispute between the Mexican Mafia and Nuestra Familia in the California prison system during the 1970's. The "Nuestra Familia" broke away from their very-rigid system to form their own gang. The Nortenos are an out growth of Nuestra Familia. Just as NF and the MM are enemies in prison, the Nortenos (N-14) are enemies of the Surenos. The Surenos were organized out of existing street gangs, and told not to fight between themselves in order to organize MM activities (drug trade) by location.

Graffiti, Language, Signs and Tattoos:
--In this example, "13 Sur Travieso" with three dots for the 3 in thirteen.  The three-dot motif also shows up in hand tattoos. Travieso means "mischief maker."

--Colors: blue with grey or silver.
--The word "barrio" means neighborhood. I'm theorizing that  to avoid the letter 'b', the word "varrio" is substituted.

--SPV-Sureno Por Vida (for life).
--Califas for California.
--A lot of the tattoos and drawings for this gang affiliation include the double masks for Tragedy and Comedy. One interpretation I saw was: "happy now, sad later, or consequences later." That may be true. or it may be too easy . . . The implication is that the drama masks are not Sur-13 specific, but I have not seen them accented anywhere else.

--The Surenos call the Nortenos by the disrespectful name of "Busters" or "Chapates" or Chaps. The implication to the latter is rural, as in, the Nortenos are farm hicks or some such. Nortenos call the Surenos "Scrap", "Scrappaz", or "Sur-Rat" (sewer-rat).

--2009, December 2--San JoseMercury--Accused Redwood City murderer, 14 at time of shooting, says older gang member filed the shot."  The defendant was asked what was the penalty of testifying that the older man committed the crime. "I get killed," he says.

--2008, October 1--NYDailyNews/AP--"Over 1300 arrested in summer gang bust." 1315 gang members were arrested nationwide, 338 were Surenos. The article says that the increased number of Surenos may be as much from "better reporting" or distinguishing different hispanic gangs rather than an increased census of Surenos. (Looking at google's news history, this appears to be a very accurate assessment.)

--2004, June 28--streetgangs. com--History of the LOTT X3 Stoner Gang. " . . . all the feuds with our rival gangs were settle the Old School Way, “a puros trancasos” proving yourself with your own fists. . . .
"As the homeboys began getting busted and doing years behind bars our look gradually became more of the traditional Cholo gang. Homeboys starting getting “TLS X3″ and “LOTT X3″ stamped (tattooed) on their bodies as we became more hard-core in gang life-style. By the mid to late 80’s, THE LOTT 13 SURENOS had evolved into a traditional Cholo n’hood and all the madness that comes with it."

The article goes on to say that recruitment into a bigger network started in 1989, which is consistent with information from the videos in Mexican Mafia, Part one.

--Credit: Notepaper Drawing from Texas, "Stayin' True to Da Blue.", a site built by a (self-identified) high-school student in Longview, Texas, for his friends to learn about the gang.

--Credit: Rose B, Minneapolis, MN in December 2006. Graffiti claiming her neighborhood.
--Credit: Tattoo, AZ Department of Corrections.

--Credit: "No Busters" from, which will not come up on my server. A similar noticia calls them "norputos" which would be Northern faggot, male prostitute," or, similar. another sign, "Putting Busters six feet under."

--Credit: Looney SPV-13's page. More examples of stacking on the page from a social media site.
--Credit: MySpace by SUREnOS ONLY. More typographical putdowns: "'surexos y surexas'  dowx with the South side'. Social Media is Extremely Important to the Group.

--Credit: Northwestgangsphotostream on, an entire collection of graffiti.

"The majority of Sureno gang members have no direct contact with Mexican Mafia members, yet the Mexican Mafia is able to exercise control and influence over Sureno gangs located in Southern California and a few scattered cities throughout the nation, without the knowledge of the majority of the street gangs’ members." From, referenced below.

--Mottos reported by the Modesto Bee: "Thou shalt earn respect" and "Kill a Norteno, win a prize." (cited in, referenced below.)

--Poem by from brownpride. com Board--['shouting' removed]
Let it rain, Let it thunder;
Bust a Norputa 4 feet under;      (another poem says "cornbread puto")
13 up high,14 will die;
Drag Tha Red Flag, Let Tha Blue Flag fly high;
Surenos don't die, Mothafucka,We Multiply!!

**Sureno Constitution, as translated from Tennessee Department of Corrections and listed by Tracy Barnhart for Officer Survival Techniques. The constitution zealously avoids the numbers 4, 14, 24, etc, because '14' or '4' is a Norteno number. It's too long to be listed here, but worthwhile to go to the link.

Uploaded by Jimmy Salgado (2007). A few signs, some art, 5 minutes. By two minutes you've seen all the illustrations. Sur Side 305, another area code, this time for Miami/Dade.
Drama masks featured. Blood-killing is mentioned in this video.

Video: toker8rosko2 uploads Surenos fight June, 2008. No context is given to the various fights. The music is great--by which I mean the lyrics do the explaining. Some of them might be initiation beatings.

Web Sites:
--Gangpreventionservices. org has an article describing the gangs' expansion out of LA, the shifting of alliances as the spread continues. Just because they wear blue, they are not affiliated with the Crips; "don't be fooled."

**Insideprisons. com has a good article from the prison perspective, lists the enemies and alliances to the gang as well as documenting its spread throughout  the U.S. According to the site, Surenos are present in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico.

** has an excellent page that explains the relationship of the Mexican Mafia to the Surenos. The Surenos are an affiliation of a number of gangs, and most of them don't call themselves Surenos. They sometimes fight between themselves. They are not members of the Mexican Mafia, but strongly allied. They also have a page of Sureno handsignals.

--rapdict. org doesn't always have good info, but this time, fairly good. They indicate that Florencia 13 is part of the Sur-13 affiliated. Some good pictures.
--Sampson Co. Sheriff, NC, a one-page PDF on the gang, very basic but very accurate.

--Streetgangs. com says there are "500 Sureno gangs in LA County representing over 50% of all gang membership." Provides links to specific groups.

--Surenos-13 Street Gang site. No dates, no authors, but still interesting. "an alliance of hundred of street gangs in Southern California". There's not much new information here.

--Upstate Califas Surtrece X3 web site on lists Sur-13 sets in Northern California. After the list, no links, but an invitation to network with the site administrator. Hmmmm.

**Washington County, Oregon Sheriff's Office Gang Anti-Task Force has a great number of examples for its locals of Sur-13 graffiti and tattoos, along with 18th Street and neo-Nazi information. This is a great example of how local law enforcement educates its citizens. The variety also shows how many smaller cliques (clicas) are still all affiliated under the X3 banner.

Some preliminary conclusions/investigations:
The literature I am seeing suggests that press and law enforcement focus on this gang affiliation is fairly recent.
a. I also think more gang sets are losing their individual names e.g. Lott St. Locos to identify under the Sur-13 category, which makes it easier for law enforcement and journalists to identify them.
b. The literature I am finding on this gang suggests a very young age for the gang--a lot of social media like Facebook and its Spanish-speaking equivalents, cliche'd mottos, etc--or, a surge of youth into the gang, again making them suddenly prominent enough to be noticed.
c. A third reason for an upsurge is the spread of the gang nationwide, but particularly the turf-battles in central California, as Sur moves North into traditionally Norteno territory. Generating a lot of press.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Los Nortenos--Nuestra Familia--La Ene Catorce (X4)

Just a bibliography with notes: Not a post. Updated December 2, 2009.
At last, a little Spanish for a bilingual gang:
1. First off, there's no n-with-a-tilde on my keyboard to denote that the second 'n' has an (ny) sound of nor-tayn-yo, or Northerner.
2. Second, you can be Norteno, as in Tex-Mex music, without being in a gang. It just means Northerner, or, as in the music "above the border" or "the USA." In California, it might mean 'Northern Californian' and no more than that.

There's not as much information on this gang on the Web. Images tagged as "Norteno" are sometimes mixed with images of the 18th St. Boys, the Surenos and Mara Salvatrucha. They all have brown pride, and they're shooting each other as fast as they can.

Graffiti, Language, the Importance of Numbers:
--In the above drawing, the huelga or eagle of Mexico, Aztec imagery, XIV, X4, Brown Pride. All these symbols date back to La Ene's association to La Raza movement and the Nuestra Familia gang. Cultural pride. Tattoos for this gang often have the Eagle and Snake of Mexico's flag.
In Spanish, the word 'huelga' also means 'strike' as in labor strike or hunger strike. The huelga bird is therefore also a sign of solidarity.
Other motifs: the sombrero, the knife.

--The X in gang alphabets stands for the number one. Therefore, a 14 or an X4 are the same thing, and it stands for Norteno.
--The four is important. Note handshakeat right: the bent elbow with the spine straight makes a Four. The other guy has Four fingers extended. knowgangs. com has this photo with a diagram, and other hand signals.

--Numbers: Gang sets often name themselves by location, using area codes in Northern California. The dividing line is around Bakersfield, CA, or Delano, CA.
707, North coastline; 530 North inland. See map for other possible codes/clues to Norteno location. The 915 Nortenos are in El Paso, which is exactly their area code.

**Nice glossary from "Nuestra Familia, Our Family" site. The Documentary from Latin Public Radio and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

"Nortenos, Hasta la muerte, Come into my barrio, you better have a cuete. . . por vida, you're in it."
 [Norteno until death, come into my neighborhood, you'd better have a gun.  . . . You're in it for life.]
Video by Krazyene916, (5 minutes) a picture series with some hand signals in it.

--Another video with a series of pictures from the El Paso 915 Nortenos (Huecos or Hueco Street). If video output is any indication, this El Paso set is active. In this video, the Surenos are called "Scrap" (or "Scrapaz") which is a nice set of puns. Scrap implirs 'trash' on its own, it's also S-crap or Sureno crap. Almost worthy of a poet. Going with that, Scrap Killers would be $K.

--News video of Oakland's murder wave (2005). Immigration from the south is pressuring Norteno gangs, too, for turf. Planning a separate post on the conflict, because I think it's a good lead for regional dynamics in gang strife.

Web sites:
--knowgangs. com has a site with some video trailers and generic information. The page on hand signals is fairly clear.
--nortenos-14 com--a long explanation that seems good except it mixes in some La Raza correspondence. (That's probably appropriate for its point in history.) No author, no footnotes, still interesting.

**"Nuestra Familia, Our Family" Web site. A documentary from 2005. This is a very good collection, including a bibliography and the glossary noted above.

**Unbelievably? TripAtlas has a great entry on the Nortenos and another one on Nuestra Familia. Much better resourced than many I've seen. One interesting item: this source says that word has come down to drop the "Hyphy" image. Had to look that up: hyphy is slang for perhaps "hyperactive" or "Hip-Hoppy." So, no Cholo looks in the north? Wouldn't mind an independent confirmation of that. In the meantime, confirmation of "hyphy" at for electronical-ized Bay Area hip hop.

--Wikipedia's article gives a pretty good history of the gang's prison origins. On the street, this seems to be a fairly beleagured gang, with Crip affiliation but plenty of enemies: La Eme, various Nazi gangs, Sur-13, and MS-13, the Fresno Bulldog Nation, and so forth.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Nuestra Familia/Nortenos, part 1: Video Series

From The History Channel's "Gangland" series, all portions uploaded to YouTube by Xcalifas 4. You can buy this series for home viewing under more comfortable seating arrangements.

This series concentrates mainly on the "Black Widow Investigation" and the work of one informant.
This means they've really only had one informant of this value. That said, think how many man-hours went into this huge investigation. Most of it unsung, unheralded, and requiring immense focus and research.

Video 1, Introduction. "Blood in, blood out." Nuestra Familia formed in 1968, after "The War of the Shoes."

Video 2:  See the 'wila' or kite, the way letters are passed in prison. Military structure of NF. Prison as a desirable or admirable rite of passage. Environmental coercion in prison and on the street.

Video 3:
"Gang Taxes" on every illegal operation on their turf. Unsaid is that extortion also works against the legitimate businesses too.

Video 4:
High publicity grab of Northern gangs into the Nortenos via music. "G.U.N."  Operation Black Widow.
For awhile you can/could listen to this music on MySpace, the Generations of United Nortenos page.  Give it a try for "114% Buster". (A Scrappa? No, I can't trust her. I'm just a 114% Bustah.)

Video 5: The end of Operation Black Widow. The change in the power structure at Pelican Bay is lightly mentioned, but the real (short-term?) consequence for the Department of Corrections at P-Bay will have been an increase in violence, as other gangs try to rush into the power vacuum.

La Eme--The Mexican Mafia, part 2--Links and Notes

Not really a post. Just some places to look for information. Updated January 26, 2011.

According to reports, this is not a gang that will usually show up curbside. The Mexican Mafia was orginally a prison gang formed in 1957 to protect hispanics from the white-only trusty system in Doyel vocational Center, a youth correction institution. Eventually they were able to develop a street presence through its camerados/comrades or colleagues, carnales/brother [although, hermano is brother, and carnal means 'fleshly' so I think this really connotes'stud', more possibly 'blood brother'; I have also seen 'cousin'/primo or 'buddy' as the translation]. The carnales further developed street presence in Southern California through a uniting/organizing effort to reduce market competition and gang wars, which tend to eat up profits. Hence the Surenos. As such, the Mexican Mafia are a cartel for organized crime, which uses the prison system as a vehicle for business.

In Texas, a separate group known as Mexikanemi follows a similar pattern. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, "Many intelligence personnel and officers confuse the EME with the Mexikanemi from Texas. Great care should be taken in evaluating these distinct groups. Some believe the Mexikanemi share identical tattoos and symbols with EME, but there are subtle differences to be taken into account when attempting to associate membership."  From what I can determine, their locations are different. Their alliances are different.  Their aims and their style, however, appear very similar.

Eme: The Mexican Mafia, La eMe. EMI: Mexicanemi.

Graffiti, Signs, Language:
M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. So, M-13, or X3. However, the street presence of the Mexican Mafia is generally carried out by others such as the Surenos, Sur-13.
Tattoo signs: The eagle and snake from the flag of Mexico. The "black hand" taken as homage to the Sicilian Mafia, only with the M added ("El Mano Negro") . Aztec languages, handsignals devised from American Sign Language, some use of the Aztec/Nahuatl language.

--2009, November 28--LATimes--Reputed MM leader charged in extortion scheme."
--2009, November 16--Pro8news--115 gang members arrested." Laredo. 500 profiles of gang members were obtained for use by other border authorities. ATF, ICE and Laredo PD. Mexican Mafia, Texas Syndicate and Hermanos Pistoleros gangs were the highest represented. This must be Mexicanemi.
--2008, BBC News--"Gang turncoat reveals violent secrets." Rene Enriquez, with the black hand tattoo of the gang, pictured right.
--2004, August 17--DEA--"Federal and Local Authorities 'Crack Down' on Hierarchy of the Mexican Mafia in San Antonio, 26 Arrests."  Heroin and cocaine. Gotta be Mexicanemi.

The Eagle and Snake from the medallion on the flag of Mexico, from Florida Department of Corrections.
The Black Hand tattoo, and 'Arta' below, BBC article credited above.
Pelican Bay ("P-Bay") photo from California Department of Corrections.

--See part 1, from the "Gangland" series.
--"Gangster Confidential" Excerpts of an interview with Enriquez, covering; Organization, Crew, Money Laundering, and Meetings. From American RadioWorks.
According to Mr. Enriquez, the Gang itself is very small, maybe 100 people; then there are the carnales, the "doers". After that, the Surenos, any Hispanic gang clique in South California.

Web Sites:
--American Radio Words, "Gangster Confidential," by Michael Montgomery. A series of interviews with Rene Enriquez. This is the home page for the interviews. Page also contains a short article by Suzanne Pankow "Brutal Control" and an assessment of Enriquez' motivations. (Montgomery thought he was smart and sincere.)
**Knowgangs. com does a good job explaining the causes of the prison gang's formation, and the difference between the Mexican Mafia and the Surenos. Both are listed in this article.
--Tom Diaz at Fairly Civil blog has three rambling posts "Mexican Mafia: National and Transnational Power" with good research, part 1, part 2, both on August 30, 2009, and part 3 on September 16, 2009.
--Diaz also writes on the Mexicanemi, part 1, then part 2.
--Tony Rafael wrote a book on the gang. The Mexican Mafia. This is his web site with interviews, reviews.
--Interview with Tony Rafael at the Southern Poverty Law Center, 2006.
--Wikipedia, "Mexican Mafia", and a a tiny, pitiful stub "Mexikanemi."

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mexican Mafia--eMe--Video series

This is the "Mexican Mafia episode from the History Channel's "Gangland Series".  Viewer discretion is advised. There's a lot of dead bodies and killings in here, some murder scenes after the fact.
You can purchase the series at the link.
Each video here is about ten minutes, and they seem to be pretty good. Links are included, in case the video fails.

Part 1: "A symbiotic relationship between the prison gang and the street gang."--Tony Rafael. The formation of the Surenos, Sur-13. Implied is that the Surenos are the street side of the Mexican Mafia.

Mexican Mafia, part 2: Solidifying racial divisions in LA.--veering off from the gang and into Los Angeles history. A decent backgrounder.

The Mexican Mafia, part 3: The formation of the Mexican Mafia.
"They sent MM members to San Quentin to transform them, but the MM transformed San Quentin instead."
Links to Aryan Brotherhood.

The Mexican Mafia, part 4:
1975--The beginning of the fight against the Nuestra Familia gang (also Nortenos).

Part 5: The conflict over the film American Me (1992) and an attempt at crackdown. American Me was the most powerful film I've ever seen. The inaccuracies in it don't take away from the rest of what you learn.
See Wikipedia, "American Me" and imDb, "American Me" for filmography.

Part 6: The SHU, or Security Housing Unit. The last minute is the important minute, because it describes the perfection of La Eme's system, nearly foolproof within the interstices of law enforcement and corrections. In American Me, the quote is: "The state is so lame, they paid for the game."

Another post on La Eme will cover the usual links and notes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crips v. Bloods--Conflicts, Alliances, & Globalization

Just some notes for my own purposes, an annotated bibliography. Not a post. Contains only information about the traditional and best-reported gang rivalry. For some reason, I thought globalization would be separate post, but it's too mixed into this bibliography to ignore.

See also Bloods page and Crips page. (Both still in work).  Right now, this bibliography remains elementary compared to the complexities. Updated December 1, 2009.

Folk Nation (Crips, blue) v. People Nation (Bloods, red).
The Piru Street Boys of Compton, California, originally allied with the Crips (c. 1971) until a dispute, and formed new alliances, becoming the Bloods (c. 1972).
Red v. Blue violence is not across the board. Crips have sometimes allied with local Blood sets to resolve a Crip-to-Crip set dispute.

Graffiti, Language:
See also Graffiti Links and Notes in this blog..
Bloods will cross out the letter C in words. Disrespectful term: Krabs, Crabs for the Crips.
Crip spelling: BK stands for Blood Killer; CK stands for Crip Killer. Therefore, in spelling, words ending in -ck are often spelled CC. Words using the letter B will substitute a BK, or, a strike mark or X will be put through the B. (eg, "black"-- Bklacc or Blacc). "Other words or letters are disrespected" (Wikipedia, "Crips")
Disrespectful word: Slobs for the Bloods.

In this example, the Bounty Hunters are a Blood gang from Nickerson Gardens housing project in Watts. (ref LANews). They've called the Crips "crabs" and then crossed them out. ['BH' Bounty Hunters 'CK' Crip Killer] at lower right with the C crossed out. Upper right, I'm not getting it all, but the housing project runs from 111th to 114th Street, so I'm guessing the 112 relates to that. 187, also at top right, refers to the California Penal Code: Sections 187-199 discuss homicides.

It looks like the reporting trend is: in LA, reporting gang violence has turned from black-on-black to black-v. hispanic killings. The Blood v. Crip war is still new in smaller towns around the nation and in other parts of the world, so it is still being reported as such. Most of these reports ignore the "Folk v. People" distinction which may be more important in some regions (east and south of Chicago, perhaps).

--2009, Nov 16--NJ RealTimeNews--Reputed Bloods gang member to stand trial in fatal shooting."
--2009, Nov 10--TheDailyTimes--"Recent high school fight part of gang war, police say." The 9-Treys (Young Bloods) against the West Main Chain Gang (Crips-affiliated) in Salisbury, Md.

--2009, Nov--NewZealandHerald--A fight between Crips and Bloods in New Zealand.

--2007, August 24--FoxNews--"Harlem residents outraged by sale of major league baseball caps with gang colors." Such merchandise tends to add to the conflict by spreading it out to games, arenas, stadiums. it's also about the margin between legitimate and illicit commerce, just as other gang cultural artifacts are.

--2005, Dec. 13--LA News--"Nine Miles and Spreading"--The geographical spread of gangs in LA.

--2005, July 14--LA News--"War and Peace in Watts." The end of the 1992 treaty.
--1992, May 12--NewYorkTimes--"After the Riots: Hope & Fear in LA as Gangs call Truce" Post Rodney King, the gangs get together against the LAPD.

Credit: Blood Piru Knowledge blog, for graffiti and also "drive by" photo. The drive-by photo looks like it came from a film. An entry of August 2009 associated w/  that picture talks briefly of how the Bloods are outnumbered by the Crips in Compton, theorizing that as a condition of future hostility. One thing that isn't faked: the armories for these groups are extremely well-supplied.

Credit: "It's On." This picture is everywhere on the web, but downloaded from Area 51.1 blog, also with an entry that shows rapper gang affiliations. The blog writer is from Romania, which says something about the globalization of culture, if nothing else. And what teens in Romania are doing research on.

From another "Links & Notes post: Alex Alonso of says, (paraphrased) "I've been all over the world. Sometimes I look at a Bloods or Crips gang overseas and know they had somebody from LA teach them. Then others just took it on (the name, the identifiers) as volunteers."

--Gangbangin' 101: Animated Version (can't embed). This is not factual video, but a music video that shows something of the way the two gangs, squared off, view themselves or, how the mythos is spread. (Gladiators.) It is a cartoon of Snoop Doggy Dogg (notable Crip) and Game (notable Blood) trying to talk truce. During the video, Snoop rescues Game from a Crip neighborhood by "driving by"--not a shooting but a rescue. Significantly, alliance is not shown to be about cash or merchandise, but about cars and the individual mobility or decisions of prominent leaders. Our news stories also tend to emphasize alliances or reform movements driven by individuals, when a vast market cooperation and local conditions dictate the real set of alliances. Lyrics here.

--Three minutes of a concert fight, November 22, 2006, by AmerKing 65. Not a spectacular video, just showing the interruption of music/business/progress in a stadium. Calls for "the end of violence" by entertainers aren't necessarily attempts to legitimize in America's political mainstream, but to increase market share and revenue within the gang community and outside it. More on the economic frontier.

--A vast number of videos referencing Crips and Bloods are nonsense--showing how gang culture has entered the mainstream: imitations, parodies by white people in bandanas, even pre-adolescent fights in backyards. None are referenced, but again they show the cultural influence of gangster culture.

--This video from DailyMotion. com. 35 seconds.
From the glamour to something approaching reality.

Web Sites:
--Florida Department of Corrections, "LA-based Gangs: Bloods & Crips." A page on identifiers, minimal but very clear.
--PBS Independent Lens Series. "Crips and Bloods: Made in America" Web site with a page for additional reading and a historical timeline. The timeline give a broad overview only. The series is ongoing, but looks like it follows the intricacies of Los Angeles more than a nationwide rivalry.

**Streetgangs. com. an excerpt from Alex Alonso's work. Black Street Gangs in Los Angeles: A History.

The Bloods and the Crips--A Documentary

The origins of the Bloods and Crips from Daily Motion. This documentary makes use of the O.G.--the Original Gang members.

And then part 2, around eight minutes.

by Top-Notch112

Unspoken here, but almost completely visible, are many disconnects and unresolved issues that prevent political resolution, from the family to the nation.

The Crips--Links and Notes

Not really a post, more an annotated bibliography. Updated November 20, 2009.

--See two videos below for "stacking" or "signing"


Credit: (Top) ; Alphabet: Blood-Piru Knowledge. com
Drawing: Photobucket, by sandedente; Poseurs, at bottom, All of these are from Social Media and Photosharing Sites. (!)
Graffiti, North Carolina Gang Investigator's Association

iSwaqqa.Kidd.Dhaa.Truff on
a Social Web site.
"My Six-Point Nation:
Kill a Blood win a prize, Kill a Crip ur whole family diez
 . . .
Lay Blu rose pedals across my death bed
Let it rain, let it flood, Let a Crip kill a Blood ,
Ashes 2oO ashes Dust 2oO dust,
In Crips we trust N on slobs we bust
When I die show no pity bury me up in Crip city,
Lay 6 blu flags across my chest Let me die and ley to rest and,
Tell all fellow Crips I did my best."

Organizational Notes for crips-knowledge . com (The exact same, however, as blood knowledge. com , so maybe not.)
L.Y.G. (Little Young Gangster) - members under 18 years old
Y.G. (Young Gangster) - members over 18 years old
O.Y.G. (Original Young Gangster) - after 5 active years of banging
O.G. (Original Gangster) - after 10 active years of banging
O.O.G. (Double O.G.) - after 15 active years of banging
O.O.O.G. (Tripple O.G.) - after 20 active years of banging
This refers to tenure, not authority in the gang.

By JDCrips from YouTube on the gang signs. I like this because it is slow, but the fast ones show how much of a language it is.

Now stacking in real time, dax 102. Less than two minutes.

Compton Crips, Part 1: Eleven minutes, from Chuck Taylor CPT. Money, happiness, cars, can't show your face. One crack-and-heroin addict.  This is at least a six-part set of vids. Too much editing, which makes it exciting but also confusing at times. Brown as well as blue rags in evidence.

Part 2: Has an advisory for under 18 years old.
Part 3: What they know about the police.
Part 4: Weapons, the difference between being a 'banger' and a 'member'.
Part 5: Amateur rapping, learn to hotwire a car.
Part 6: How to make pruno and hide it in prison, female participation, making $50 to $400 per day selling weed, etc.

Web sites:
--Answer. com's Charles Montaldo has written about the Crips gang member Tookie Williams, his prison record on San Quentin's death row, and his appeal history.

-- crip-knowledge. com has an entry, no authorship provided, that looks pretty good. They also have information on the Rolling 30's Crips, but no other set.
--  in side has a long list of Crip factions and enemies, but no information on them.

--StreetGangs. com has a listing (undated) of Los Angeles area Crips sets, including some alliances and some defunct groups.  Some of the listings have links to individual gangs.

--Wikipedia, "The Crips."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Bloods and Blood Piru-Links and Notes

A sort of running bibliography, not exactly a post. For research purposes. Updated November 29, 2009. The situation with Bloods is far more complicated than any one bibliography, even w/o comments, can give.

--See alphabet at right. Notice how the C is crossed out, upside down pitchfork on the C, F, and T.
--See video on "stacking" below.
There appears to be regional or local variations, as well as Blood Piru v. Blood variations.

--2009, November 30--NYDailyNews-"Bodies pile up in Staten Island gang war-victims all affiliated with the Bloods." 4 dead so far.
--2009, October 20--The Gothamist blog discusses an annual NY/NJ urban legend about "Red October"--a month-long crime spree or ten-day initiation that tends to upset people but not be true.

--2009, April 29--NYDailyNews--"Cops nab twenty-one suspected Blood gang members." An eight-month investigation in the Bronx.
--2008, Dec. 31--NYDailyNews--"15-year-old girl 'Lady Red' indicted in two Bronx murders."

**2008, August 20--Virginia Pilot--"Fed witness gives inside view of how 'Bloods' gang operates." Norfolk Bounty Hunter Bloods.
--2007, July 9--NYTimes--"A little girl shot, and a crowd that didn't see." Trenton, NJ, the Blood Sex Murder set of the Bloods.
**2007, January 31--FrederickNewsPost--Police charge two teens with attempted murder." The mother found a safe with guns and "training literature" in her son's bedroom and turned him in. Picture below is not related.

Credits: Banner from California; Gang Alphabet blood-piru-knowledge-gangsters blogspot.
Credit: Global Grind blog (about hip-hop). A bust in Compton. Pic possibly from LA Times.

--From little on seniority. This is about tenure, not leadership.
L.Y.G. (Little Young Gangster) - members under 18 years old
Y.G. (Young Gangster) - members over 18 years old
O.Y.G. (Original Young Gangster) - after 5 active years of banging
O.G. (Original Gangster) - after 10 active years of banging
O.O.G. (Double O.G.) - after 15 active years of banging.
O.O.O.G. (Tripple O.G.) - after 20 active years of banging

--From a Bloods documentary video (part 1) by ThiazVids,  (paraphrase) "it's a war, war on the street. The bad thing is when you hit a momma or a kid, but.  . (shrug)  . . . get out of the way."
Another quote: "We ain't rappers, we're factors. We're about the facts."
--Part 2 by ThiazVids, here. There's so many cars and rappers in here, not as good. Quote: "It's about business now."  The second video's not worth much scholarly attention . . .

--This video has a few signs, some dress notes, and a lot of photos on Game. This is good, but I am looking for a better one. "If you're Blood, throw it up." Surblade, 3 mins.

**Blood Stacking, with a note that this is a member of the Tree Top Pirus. The vid is five minutes long for the music. Once he stacks a shot to the head (2:38), you can stop the vid. An incredible amount of wordless information in less than three minutes.

**Compton Blood Pirus, from Thiazvids, a pretty good documentary vidder. Nothing glamorous about this video. People measuring drugs for sales (like fast food) and then onward to their drug of choice--multigenerational failure clearly documented. This is Blood Piru--maroon, not red signs. The fragility of enjoyment, life, and even the thin nature of redemption and forgiveness. Excruciating nine minutes.

Web sites:
**Blood Knowledge. com has an interesting history of LA Bloods & Pirus, slightly different than others. For instance, it includes the Black P Stones of Chicago and denies the affiliation with the People Nation. The source is anonymous and the site is not full-quality as to references.

--Knowgangs com has a good history of the Bloods, starting with Compton and then going to Riker's Island, where an independent group formed against the Latin Kings inside the prison. It emphasizes the non-centralized, spontaneous formation of the collected gangs known as Bloods.

--Streetgangs. com "Blood Sets in Los Angeles County." has a listing of 78 different Blood or Piru organizations, with links to some, plus information on other counties.
--Wikipedia, "Bloods."  A generic article.

Gang Economics, I: Levitt and Ventakesh

This is 22 minutes long and very interesting. One thing that Steven Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) does is provide actual numbers and a dispassionate model to gang drug trafficking on the street end of the deal.

There is also a written transcript, and the scholarly paper to which he refers. From the transcript:
But the thing that really makes the gang seem like McDonald's is its franchisees. That the guys who are running, you know, the local gangs -- the four-square-block by four-square-block areas -- they're just like the guys, in some sense, who are running the McDonald's. They are the entrepreneurs. They get the exclusive property rights to control the drug-selling. They get the name of the gang behind them, for merchandising and marketing. And they're the ones who basically make the profit or lose a profit, depending on how good they are at running the business.
One thing Professor Levitt leaves out: you might be able to watch your kids and sell drugs at the same time. (Okay, not well, but still.) At McDonald's, you can't. You can talk back to people selling dope on the street. At McDonald's, you say, "Thank you for your order." Professor Leavitt may have worked a low-paying job in the service sector, working with the public. But I don't think he included all of the benefits of being a semi-independent contractor on the street.

A lot of poor people work at home. That includes in the garment trade, the drug trade, and other kinds of subcontracting in work scenarios that do not have benefits worth leaving home for.

I thought this was great work. I'm a little jealous of Sudhir Ventakesh's experiences, too.

Further reading: Sudhir Ventakesh on the Freakonomics blog in 2007.
The book Freakonomics, sold darn near everywhere.

Credit: Thanks to Ted dot com for the video.

Gangs for Parents, parts 1 to 4--Links & Notes

"Gangs for Parents" is not offering membership in  "Papas-16" or "The Very Angry Moms" Gang. Instead, it gives links and notes for parents and educators, specifically those that do not have much experience with the gang phenomenon.

This post is designed to give sources but also talk about their limitations. One limitation here is that slang, brand names, and fashion all change very quickly. (This post updated December 5, 2009).

Good parents live in all kinds of neighborhoods. Steps 1 through 3 are universal. Step 4 has to do with visual information and therefore judgement. The visuals will vary from location to location. Maybe your children go to private school and has their own laptops, smartPhones, and MP3s. Maybe they go to public school and can't afford a computer. Use the part that's relevant for home, school, and locations inbetween. That's three different locations, and parents can (and should) assess the risk about them all.

Step I: Local Emphasis: Most of the information out there is general or confined to big cities. But you want local information the most, regional information second.

Neighbors, teachers, small business in your area all pay attention to gang activity. You want to bond with others who share that concern. Check local news, but particularly your local Police Department's Web site, for local information. If your jurisdiction does not have local information, try the next largest city in your vicinity.

That said, the threat can show up before information does. An aggressive gang takeover of a small city can occur over a matter of months, particularly if there is pressure behind them to move by other gangs or law enforcement.

Step II: Don't Categorize Too Quickly. Gangs frequently affiliate along racial lines, but that's not good enough for a risk assessment.  Gang members come in all races, creeds, colors, national origins, and ages. Even gangs expressly considered of one race can have individuals of other races mixed in. Some of these gangs also have alliances with gangs of another color, any color. You have to size up individual signals, and then their associations.

Step III: Focus. The gang you need to worry about for your children, school, and neighborhood is the gang in your area, not the one with the most press coverage this week. Don't get distracted. "The Most Dangerous Gang" is the one or three near you.

Step IV: Visual (and other) Indicators. If you can't find any local info to help you get specific, try and identify the graffiti, the tattoo, the colors worn. That goes a long way to helping you figure out which gang applies, and then you can look it up. You are learning a language, most of it visual, so that you have the exact information you need. The rest of this post is abut these indicators.

Name graffiti or tagging, is not a sign of gang activity. Below: a picture from Brooklyn by Jake Dobkyns. This graffiti is all "tagging". While this street may have gangs on it, most to none of the graffiti is gang-related. It is about gaining individual fame for -CC, SteveR, 123, and Siron. Possible exception would be at the lower right, but it's old and low. The big problem here is vandalism, not gangs. See that guy in the red t-shirt? He's not dressed like a Blood, and he's minding his own business. He probably just likes red.

--Here is a video (Salomun, 1 min) that explains why baggy clothes are functional as well as stylish. On school dress codes. The freckle-faced youth in this video shows you that the rules are for everybody. If your school cracks down, don't give them any grief. You don't have to agree with the anti-gun slogan (tacked-on) at the end to see that this has a good point about schools.

--Clothing for an adolescent is huge challenge for parents. Most gang clothes are pretty basic, it's a matter of style and accessories that tell the tale. For instance, the Texas Youth Commission basically lists everything you should watch out for in clothing, in English and Spanish. Unfortunately, these are very general, and, the same clothing a child would wear if they were self-conscious of their body--or--just playing around--or--in a gang.

--Sports clothing: British Knight clothing, or BK, stands for Blood Killer. Likewise Adidas has been given an acronym: "All Day I Disrespect All Slobs" (Slobs meaning Bloods).  So even shoes are fraught with meaning, temporarily or permanently. Teams: professional or college, any sport, have distinctive colored jerseys, warm-up jackets, and so forth. This can be perfectly innocent to wear, but not always. So for clothes, the extent of the 'gangbanging look' is more a guide than any one clothing article, both for strangers and for your own children's dress. Here's a video with teams, brand names, and corresponding gangs and gang slogans.

--Knowgangs has a site where gang members upload signature clothing. You can check them out.
--Fashions change. Wikipedia has an entry on "Hip-Hop Fashion." It needs more references, but it's still pretty good. And it says hip-hop is starting to leave those baggy clothes behind.

--Video partly on sports gear specifically made to target gang purchasers by Gang TV (2008, about 2 minutes). A lot of people are making money on the gang phenomenon.

--Expensive sports clothing often makes kids a target on the street. A leather jacket with sports logos, for instance: it's a nice-looking jacket. The mugger wants it for the same reason your child wanted it. Remember those three locations: school, home, and in-between, to make the risk assessment.

Rap Music:
Rap music is a popular art. It makes a collage of sounds, just as if you were walking down a city street and getting bits and pieces of more than one life. It is also very collaborative, where guest rappers each take a part in one person's album. It's hit the mainstream. I'm fairly sure it indicates nothing at all anymore about a child's propensity to gangs. They do still have Parental Advisories on specific albums. In some cases, that means they take out the F word, but leave in all the disrespect.

It's one reason your children are interested in those clothes, too, and why they're talking like that.
--National Geographic has a page on rap and hip-hop as part of its World Music offering.
--Rap.Music com is a site that describes what's upcoming, with videos and sidebar links to major artists.
--Several lyrics sites on the Web will help you with the words you don't get. (Use pop-up blocker.)

"Throwing it up" or "stacking" means making elaborate hand signals. Most of these signs are adapted from American Sign Language (Ameslan). The languages will also have commonality because they get passed along in that incubator known as prison. But each gang has specific variants, enough that they can talk without being "overheard". To check for specifics, go to other gang pages.

The use of signing has become a great joke in the suburbs and the frat houses. But it may attract danger in a potentially lawless street, or in the school cafeteria. Like all hand signs, appropriateness is the key.

Social Media:
--11/29/2009--According to the New York Daily News, gangs are using Twitter to foment arguments, set dates for fights, and otherwise accomplish business. H/T Gothamist.

--On Facebook and MySpace, there are red and blue bandana settings for your personal page, et cetera, so that gang members can show their pride in their gang and identify themselves through it. There's at least one page set-up suitable for every gang. The one illustrated is for the Surenos, with the rose and knife along with the blue color.

Note: Pretend-Gangsters can also use these pages on Facebook or Twitter or MySpace. It's not just the page layout, it's who they visit and what they talk about.

Bad stuff to talk about includes 1. overt signs of gang activity and 2. subject matter unrelated to your children's interests.  For example, Rene Enriquez of the Mexican Mafia explained that a visitor can talk about extortion with a prisoner, right in front of a guard, by saying something like "Sam came over to plant four bushes in the garden. He says he'll be back every week to check on them" and meaning, "Sam gave me $400, and he's promised to pay $400 every week." Does your child talk about gardening on FaceBook because he likes gardens, or is it something else? From this example, you should get a glimpse of what kind of conversations on social media would be worth a conversation off-line.


First, the bottom line: It is extremely dangerous for your child (or you) to get a gang tattoo if not affiliated a gang. That goes double for prison tattoos. These tattoos mean something. Getting one for fun devalues that meaning. You will not like how you are devalued back. If you are around to have an opinion.

--Check your state's Department of Corrections site for prison or gang tattoos specific to your area. If that site has nothing, then both Florida and Arizona have good example pages. Right: neo-Nazi tattoos.

Second, the grey area: A tattoo by itself is not a sign of gang tendencies. Roses or barbed wire tattoos are common, and not an indication by themselves. The associated tattoos plus the extent of tattooing matters. If the barbed wire is next to a swastika, or the rose is accompanied by a huge knife, that's more of a problem. A little research goes a long way.

Example: Face tattoo guy (at left) will have a lot of obstacles in life, but gang affiliation is not necessarily one of them.

Video Games:
I am not an expert on gaming. But Grand Theft Auto, Crime Life: Gang Wars, Modern Warfare, probably others, all have games that re-enact gang activity. I mention them because they are one leading way that gang culture begins to interest young people. This isn't necessarily going to lead them into a gang, any more than rap music will. It might just teach them how to "stack" or change their grammar.

Some people believe these games lead to racial profiling or to glamorizing (see GTA illustration, top left). Certainly the players spend time smacking people down and shooting folks onscreen, learning to count that as a win. Without off-game social time, the distinction between real people and game pieces might get blurred. One example of a scary game:

--2009, February 13--The Telegraph, UK--"Rapelay virtual rape game banned by Amazon." A game that simulates gang rape manufactured in Japan and becoming somewhat international.

So, focus on local and regional information, the extent of visual signs as well as their content . . . what your child is doing . . . and stay tuned for part two, law enforcement resources and handbooks for deeper reading. I'm still researching that part, (as of December 4, 2009).