Prison Gangs

A prison gang is a gang that is represented in the USA prison system population. Most of the prison gangs are engaged in criminal activities on the outside. Some prison gangs have their roots in the streets, the other have originated in prisons (e.g. the Folk Nation and the People Nation).

Many prison gangs are racially oriented:

1. The Mexican Mafia (La Eme)

This prison gang is composed mostly of Hispanics. Formed in the 1950s in California prisons. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, the Mexican Mafia prison gang was formed at Duel Vocational Center, a youthful offender facility in California, from an urban Los Angeles street gang. The Mexican Mafia is known for such criminal activities as prostitution control, drug and weapons supply, extortion, rackets, murders. “Eme” stands for the Spanish letter “M”, which is the 13th letter in the alphabet. This symbols are represented in the Mexican Mafia members’ tattoos. “13″ is widely used as gang identification. Other symbols may include initials “EME” or “MM” or just “M”.

California and Texas have the largest population of the Mexican Mafia, while in San Antonio the gang is responsible for over 10% of the total homicide rate. This prison gang is considered as “blood in, blood out” organization. The Mexican Mafia has the most active relationships with the Aryan Brotherhood.

If you would like to know more about the Mexican Mafia:

Prison gangs the Mexican Mafia

Mexican Mafia Video Documentary

2. Nuestra Familia

La Nuestra Famila (“Our Family”) has its origins in Northern California, in the Soledad prison in mid 1960s. It’s initial purpose was to protect young inmates from other inmates, under supervision of the Mexican Mafia. Later cultural and social differences between urban and rural Mexican Americans developed into hatred between La Nuestra Family and the Mexican Mafia. Other rivals are the Texas Syndicate, Mexikanemi, and the Aryan Brotherhood.

This prison gang operates in and out of prisons, main sources of income is drug distribution, including cocain, heroin, marijuana and metamphetamine, including such within prison systems. The Nuestra Famila’s symbol is letter “N”, which is the 14th letter in the alphabet, as well as the Roman numeral “XIV”. The gang members prefer large tattoos on the entire back. La Nuestra Familia members also wear red bandanas to identify themselves.

More about La Nuestra Familia:

La Nuestra Famila Prison Gang

Nuestra Familia Video Documentary

3. The Texas Syndicate

The Texas Syndicate is a prison gang mostly based in Texas. The gang includes mostly Hispanic members, however allows Caucasian members. The origin of the Texas Syndicate is the Folsom Prison in California, where it was established in the 1970s as a response to other gangs, such as the Mexican Mafia or the Aryan Brotherhood). According to the reports, the Texas Syndicate includes about 19,000 members in prisons and jails of the USA, with even more gang members outside. Main sources of income are from drug trafficking, prostitution, extortion, illegal gambling, protection and and contract killing. The gang’s constitution requires each member to be a Texan and wear a Texas Syndicate tattoo. It is notable that the Texas Syndicate leadership is formed by democratic elections. There is a 10% tax (“the dime”) imposed on released or paroled members of the gang, which goes towards the gang in prison.

There are various symbols used as the gang identification, while different symbols stand for the role in the gang (e.g. three marks of a bird’s footprint for a drug dealer and five marks for a weapon supplier), while the tattoo of “TS” is common for all Texas Syndicate members.

The Aryan Brotherhood, the Mexican Mafia, and the Black Guerrilla Family are often named as the main rivals of the Texas Syndicate.

More about The Texas Syndicate:

Texas Syndicate prison gang tattoo

The Texas Syndicate Videos

4. Ñetas or the Ñeta Association

The Ñetas is a prison gang that originated from the Puerto Rico Maximum Security Prison named Oso Blanco and spread to the United States in 1970s. The Ñetas are reported to have 75,000 – 100,000 members (among which about 20,000 are in the USA, 40,000 are in Puerto Rico, and the rest are in other parts of the world) mainly Puerto Rican. The illegal drug trade in Puerto Rico is controlled by this gang. In 2009 the Ñetas are reported by the Observer  to have up to 6,000 members in the North East Coast of the USA alone.

The Ñetas prison gang’s main criminal activity involves drugs, extortion, intimidation. According to the recent information the gang is now involved in performing “hits” for other gangs. The strongest regions in the USA represented by the Ñetas are New York (Kings County, Queens County, Nassau County and Suffolk County), New Jersey area (Hudson County, Passaic County and Essex County). The Ñetas are allied with the Latin Kings, Nation, Los Macheteros, while their rivals are Solidos, 20 Luv, Elm City Boys.

More about the Ñetas:Ñetas

Ñetas Ñeta Association prison gang

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