Exploring the World of Prison Gangs in the US

Prison gangs have become a significant concern within the American correctional system. These gangs are composed of incarcerated individuals who operate within the prison walls and sometimes extend their reach outside. Their activities range from drug trafficking, extortion, and violence against other prisoners or staff members. These gangs maintain strict hierarchical structures, and members often exhibit tattoos or signs representing their affiliation.

Prison gangs form a subculture within the correctional system, and their impact is felt beyond prison walls. The activities of these gangs can affect the safety of inmates, staff, and the general public. Therefore, it is crucial to understand their structures, activities, and impact on the correctional system.

Prison Gangs

In this section, we will delve into the world of prison gangs in the US. We will examine the history, members, activities, and hierarchies of these gangs. Additionally, we will explore the significance of tattoos and signs, recruitment processes, and the overall impact of prison gangs on the American correctional system.

  • Prison gangs are a significant concern within the American correctional system
  • These gangs maintain strict hierarchical structures, and members often exhibit tattoos or signs representing their affiliation
  • The activities of these gangs can affect the safety of inmates, staff, and the general public
  • Understanding the structures, activities and impact of prison gangs is crucial for developing effective strategies to address their influence and safeguard the integrity of the prison system

Prison Gangs in the US

Aryan Brotherhood
Gang NameDescriptionPrimary Ethnicity/RaceOriginating Area
Aryan BrotherhoodOne of the oldest white supremacist prison gangs, involved in drug trafficking, extortion, and murder.WhiteNational
Mexican MafiaHighly organized Latino gang involved in drug trafficking, extortion, and murder.LatinoCalifornia
Black Guerrilla FamilyAfrican-American gang involved in drug trafficking, extortion, and murder.African-AmericanCalifornia
Nuestra FamiliaInvolved in drug trafficking, extortion, and murder, with a significant presence in Northern California prisons.LatinoNorthern California
Texas SyndicatePredominantly Texan Latino prison gang involved in drug trafficking and other organized crime-related activities.LatinoTexas
Barrio AztecaOriginated in Texas prisons with links to Mexican drug cartels, involved in drug trafficking and violent crimes.LatinoTexas
Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)Known for violent activities and drug trafficking, with members primarily from El Salvador.LatinoLos Angeles, California
Folk NationA gang alliance involved in various criminal activities.DiverseChicago
Crips and BloodsStreet gangs with a significant presence in U.S. prisons.African-AmericanLos Angeles, California
The Irish MobOne of the oldest organized crime groups in the United States, with members of Irish descent.White (Irish descent)Various
Hell’s AngelsOutlaw motorcycle gang with members known to operate inside prisons.WhiteCalifornia
Simon City RoyalsOne of the largest and most violent street gangs, involved in various criminal activities.DiverseChicago
Dead Man IncPredominantly composed of Caucasian members and involved in various criminal activities inside and outside of prison.WhiteMaryland
notorious prison gangs

The Aryan Brotherhood: A Powerful Prison Gang

The Aryan Brotherhood is one of the most notorious prison gangs in the US. Established in the late 1960s, the gang has a reputation for extreme violence and is known for its involvement in drug trafficking, extortion, and murder. Its members are predominantly white supremacist and are fiercely protective of their racial identity.

The gang operates under a strict hierarchical structure, with a leadership council that controls all gang activities both inside and outside prison walls. New members are carefully vetted and must prove their loyalty and dedication to the gang through violent acts. Once accepted, members are expected to follow a strict code of conduct that emphasizes loyalty and secrecy.

One of the most notable features of the Aryan Brotherhood is their use of tattoos to signify their membership and accomplishments within the gang. These tattoos often feature Nazi and white supremacist imagery, including swastikas and SS lightning bolts. Members are also known for using hand signs to communicate with other members and to show their allegiance to the gang.

The Aryan Brotherhood has been responsible for a significant amount of prison violence and has a well-documented history of targeting and attacking non-white inmates. The gang has also been linked to numerous murders both inside and outside of prison walls. Despite efforts by prison authorities to crack down on the gang, it remains a powerful force within the US correctional system.

Dealing with the Aryan Brotherhood and other notorious prison gangs is a major challenge for prison management. These gangs pose a significant threat to the safety of both inmates and staff and can undermine the overall integrity of the correctional system. To address this issue, prison authorities must develop effective strategies for identifying and disrupting gang activities, as well as providing support and protection for vulnerable inmates.

Aryan Brotherhood tattoo

The Mexican Mafia: A Formidable Prison Gang

The Mexican Mafia is one of the most notorious prison gangs in the US, with a significant presence in the American correctional system. Also known as “La Eme,” the gang originated in the 1950s within the California prison system and quickly established itself as a powerful force within the prison walls. The gang operates under a strict hierarchical structure, with a group of high-ranking leaders known as the “Council” at the top, and various “Carnals” or “Brothers” at the lower levels. The Mexican Mafia maintains strict control over its members, and disobedience or disloyalty is met with severe punishment.

The Mexican Mafia is known for its involvement in various criminal activities, both inside and outside prison walls. These activities include drug trafficking, extortion, assault, and murder. The gang has also been linked to other notorious prison gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood and the Black Guerrilla Family, as well as street gangs like MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang.

The Mexican Mafia uses a variety of tactics to recruit new members, including the use of street-level gangs and the exploitation of vulnerable individuals within the prison system. New members must go through a rigorous initiation process that involves committing an act of violence against an enemy or even a fellow inmate. Some of the most common methods of recruitment include offering protection, financial support, and access to drugs or other contraband.

Like other notorious prison gangs, the Mexican Mafia is responsible for a significant amount of gang violence within the US correctional system. The gang’s influence extends beyond prison walls, with members continuing their criminal activities after their release from prison. The Mexican Mafia has also been known to engage in violent clashes with other groups, leading to numerous fatalities and injuries.

The Mexican Mafia’s tattoos are some of the most recognizable in the gang world, featuring the letters “EME” or the number 13, which represents the letter “M” in the alphabet. These tattoos serve as a symbol of membership and are often accompanied by other gang-related imagery, such as skulls, guns, and religious iconography.

Overall, the Mexican Mafia remains a powerful force within the US correctional system and poses a significant challenge to prison management. The gang’s reach extends beyond prison walls, and its influence on other prison gangs and street-level gangs cannot be underestimated. As such, it is essential to understand the organization’s structure, activities, and recruitment methods to develop effective strategies for addressing its influence and ensuring the safety and security of the American correctional system.

Mexican Mafia

The Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) is a notorious prison gang that originated in San Quentin State Prison in California in 1966. The gang was founded by George Jackson, a former Black Panther who was serving time for an armed robbery conviction. The BGF is known for its involvement in criminal activities both inside and outside prison walls, including drug trafficking, extortion, and murder.

The gang has a hierarchical structure, with leaders known as “Big Homies” who oversee operations within and outside prison. Members of the BGF use a set of symbols and codes, including a diamond-shaped symbol and the phrase “Love, Loyalty, and Unity,” to show their affiliation with the gang. They also have distinctive tattoos, including images of a dragon or a panther, which symbolize power and status within the group.

Recruitment into the BGF is a highly selective process, with potential members required to demonstrate their loyalty and willingness to carry out violent acts. The gang has a particular focus on recruiting Black men from low-income neighborhoods, and they prey on vulnerable individuals who may be seeking protection or a sense of belonging.

The BGF has been responsible for a significant amount of gang violence in American prisons, and their activities have been a significant challenge for prison management. In 1971, George Jackson was killed during an attempted prison escape, and his death led to a series of violent clashes between the BGF and prison authorities. Today, the BGF continues to be a powerful and influential force within the US prison system, often collaborating with other notorious prison gangs to carry out criminal activities.

Black Guerrilla Family tattoo

The impact of the BGF on the US correctional system is profound, and their activities highlight the ongoing challenges faced by prison management in dealing with notorious prison gangs. The BGF’s influence within prisons has led to increased levels of violence, corruption, and the infiltration of criminal activity into the wider community.

Efforts to combat the influence of the BGF and other notorious prison gangs have included increased surveillance, the implementation of stricter sentencing guidelines for gang-related crimes, and the creation of specialized prison units to house gang members. However, these efforts have had limited success in addressing the root causes of gang involvement, and the ongoing influence of the BGF and other prison gangs remains a significant concern.

Nuestra Familia and the Texas Syndicate: Notorious Hispanic Prison Gangs

Among the various prison gangs in the United States, Nuestra Familia and the Texas Syndicate are two significant Hispanic organizations that have made their mark in the correctional system. Both gangs are well-known for their involvement in criminal activities, their hierarchical structures, and their methods of recruitment.

Prison gang activities: Nuestra Familia and the Texas Syndicate both participate in a range of criminal activities within and outside of prison walls. These activities include drug trafficking, extortion, and murder. They often use violence and intimidation to control the prison population.

Prison gang violence: Like many other notorious prison gangs, Nuestra Familia and the Texas Syndicate are responsible for significant levels of violence in American prisons. They often engage in deadly feuds with rival gangs and are known for their brutal methods.

Prison gang hierarchy: Both gangs operate under strict hierarchical structures, with leaders at the top who dictate the activities of the lower-level members. The gangs carry out their criminal enterprises with precision and coordination, which makes them a powerful force within the correctional system.

Prison gang recruitment: One of the ways in which these gangs maintain their hold on the prison population is through recruitment. They often target vulnerable individuals who are looking for protection or a sense of belonging. These individuals are then indoctrinated into the gang’s culture and are expected to participate in criminal activities.

Notorious prison gangs: Nuestra Familia and the Texas Syndicate are among the most well-known prison gangs in the US, with a reputation for violence and criminal activity. Their influence reaches far beyond prison walls, and they are a significant challenge for law enforcement agencies.

Gang violence in American prisons: The activities of Nuestra Familia and the Texas Syndicate, along with other prison gangs, have a significant impact on the safety and security of American prisons. They often engage in deadly turf wars and pose a threat to both inmates and prison staff.

Gang recruitment in US prisons: The recruitment tactics used by Nuestra Familia and the Texas Syndicate, such as preying on vulnerable individuals, make them a challenging problem for the correctional system. These gangs continue to grow and recruit new members, which highlights the need for effective strategies to address their influence.

Texas Syndicate and Nuestra Familia prison gang members' tattoos

Tattoos are an essential part of the gang culture and serve as a symbol of membership and loyalty. Members of Nuestra Familia and the Texas Syndicate often display tattoos on their bodies to show their allegiance to the gang. These tattoos typically include the gang’s initials, symbols, and other designs that represent the gang’s ideology.

The tattoos of Nuestra Familia often include the letters “NF,” the number 14, and the Mexican flag. The Texas Syndicate’s tattoos may include the letters “TS,” the Texas state flag, or the image of a black hand with the word “Texas” written across it. These tattoos are a way for members to show their commitment to the gang and can be used to identify members both in and out of prison.

Barrio Azteca and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13): Notable Hispanic Prison Gangs

In the world of prison gangs, Barrio Azteca and Mara Salvatrucha, commonly known as MS-13, are two notable Hispanic gangs that have gained notoriety for their violent and criminal activities both inside and outside prison walls.

Barrio Azteca was founded in 1986 in El Paso, Texas. Initially, it was formed as a neighborhood street gang, but it eventually expanded its influence into the US prison system. The gang is primarily made up of Mexican-American males, and they have established a hierarchical structure with a leader, underbosses, and soldiers. Their criminal activities include drug trafficking, smuggling, extortion, and contract killings. Barrio Azteca is known for using violence as a means of control.

MS-13, on the other hand, was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s by Salvadoran immigrants. The gang is made up of primarily Central American members and has a complex organizational structure with multiple cliques, or factions. MS-13 is known for its brutal and merciless violence, often using machetes and other weapons to carry out their attacks. Their criminal activities include drug trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution, and extortion.

Barrio Azteca and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)

Both Barrio Azteca and MS-13 have a sophisticated recruitment process, targeting vulnerable individuals in their communities and offering protection and a sense of belonging in exchange for their loyalty. Once recruited, new members are required to go through an initiation process, which often involves committing violent crimes, to prove their loyalty to the gang.

These two gangs are a significant threat to prison management due to their violent and hierarchical nature. The leaders of these gangs are often able to control their members both within and outside prison walls, making it challenging for correctional officers to maintain discipline and order.

Furthermore, their activities extend far beyond prison walls, posing a significant threat to public safety. Both Barrio Azteca and MS-13 have been linked to numerous violent crimes, including murders, assaults, and kidnappings.

In conclusion, Barrio Azteca and MS-13 are two of the most notorious Hispanic prison gangs in the United States. Their violent and criminal activities, coupled with their sophisticated recruitment and hierarchical structures, make them a significant threat to prison management and public safety.

Folk Nation and the Rivalry with the Crips and Bloods

Folk Nation is a prison gang that has had a longstanding rivalry with two prominent street gangs, the Crips and Bloods. Their presence extends beyond the streets, with members operating within the US prison system.

The roots of the Folk Nation date back to the 1970s, when various gangs united under the Folks alliance in Chicago, Illinois. Today, the Folk Nation comprises approximately 70 separate gangs, with a total membership estimated to be in the tens of thousands.

Like other prison gangs, the Folk Nation operates according to a strict hierarchical structure. Their leadership, known as the “Board,” is responsible for making major decisions and resolving disputes among members. At the lower levels, members are expected to follow orders from their “superiors” without question.

Prison gang activities, including violence and recruitment, have been a longstanding issue in US correctional institutions. The rivalry between the Folk Nation, the Crips, and the Bloods has only heightened tensions within the system, with gang members at times resorting to extreme measures to assert their dominance and control.

Prison officials face significant challenges in addressing the activities of these gangs. In some cases, members of the same gang may be housed together, making it easier for them to coordinate their actions and carry out violent attacks. In other cases, gangs may engage in recruitment efforts that target vulnerable inmates, using intimidation tactics to coerce them into joining.

Despite these challenges, prison officials continue to work towards reducing gang activities within the system. Efforts include increasing surveillance, developing gang-intervention programs, and improving communication between different departments within the prison system.

Folk Nation and the Rivalry with the Crips and Bloods

The Irish Mob and Hell’s Angels: Notorious Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs in Prison

Outlaw motorcycle gangs have long been a thorn in the side of law enforcement, and their presence in the American prison system is significant. The Irish Mob and Hell’s Angels are two of the most notorious outlaw motorcycle gangs in the US, and their influence extends behind bars.

The Irish Mob, also known as the Westies, is a predominantly Irish-American gang that has been involved in organized crime since the mid-19th century. In prison, they operate as a criminal enterprise, specializing in extortion, smuggling, and drug trafficking. Their hierarchical structure is based on loyalty, and members must be willing to commit acts of violence to prove their allegiance to the gang.

Hell’s Angels, on the other hand, is a multinational motorcycle club founded in California in 1948. They are known for their violent clashes with rival gangs and law enforcement, and their involvement in various criminal activities. In prison, they maintain their organizational structure and continue to engage in drug trafficking, extortion, and other illicit activities.

The hierarchical structure of these gangs is based on a president, vice-president, treasurer, sergeant-at-arms, and other officers. Members must prove their loyalty to the gang by committing violent acts and following strict codes of conduct.

The tattoos of both the Irish Mob and Hell’s Angels are significant, as they serve as a visual representation of their gang membership. The symbols and designs often convey messages of loyalty, bravery, and toughness.

Recruitment into these outlaw motorcycle gangs is strictly controlled, and new members must go through a rigorous initiation process. Prospective members must be male, have a motorcycle, and be willing to engage in criminal activity on behalf of the gang.

The presence of the Irish Mob and Hell’s Angels in American prisons poses unique challenges for correctional facilities, as they often maintain their organizational structures and carry out criminal activities behind bars. Additionally, their violent clashes with rival gangs can lead to serious incidents of gang violence, endangering both inmates and staff.

Overall, the Irish Mob and Hell’s Angels are two of the most notorious outlaw motorcycle gangs in the US, with a significant presence in the American prison system. Their hierarchical structures, violent activities, and strict codes of conduct make them a formidable presence behind bars.

notorious prison gangs

The Simon City Royals, Dead Man Inc., and Other Noteworthy Prison Gangs

In addition to the well-known prison gangs mentioned in previous sections, there are several other noteworthy organizations operating within the US correctional system. One such gang is the Simon City Royals, a predominantly white gang that originated in Chicago in the 1950s. The group has a hierarchical structure, with leaders known as “kingpins” or “emperors” and lower-level members referred to as “knights” or “soldiers.” The Simon City Royals are involved in a variety of criminal activities, including drug trafficking, extortion, and murder.

Another significant prison gang is Dead Man Inc., which has a primarily white membership but also includes African American and Hispanic members. The group originated in Maryland in the 1990s and has since expanded to other states. Dead Man Inc. has a highly structured hierarchy, with leaders known as “generals” and lower-level members referred to as “lieutenants” and “soldiers.” The gang is involved in various criminal activities, including drug trafficking, extortion, and contract killing.

Other notable prison gangs operating within the US correctional system include the Nazi Lowriders, the Texas Tango Blast, and the United Blood Nation. These gangs vary in size, structure, and activities, but all pose significant challenges to prison management and the safety of inmates and staff.

Gang violence in American prisons remains a serious concern, with frequent incidents of assault, murder, and rioting. Gang recruitment in US prisons is also a persistent issue, with gangs using a variety of tactics to entice new members. These tactics can include offering protection, drugs, or other forms of support in exchange for allegiance to the gang.

Noteworthy prison gangs

Overall, the existence of prison gangs within the US correctional system poses a significant challenge to maintaining a safe and secure environment for inmates and staff. Effective strategies for preventing gang activity and reducing the influence of these organizations must be a priority for prison management and law enforcement agencies.

Conclusion

Prison gangs in the United States pose a significant threat to the safety and security of the country’s correctional system. The activities of these gangs, which include violence, intimidation, and criminal enterprises, have a profound impact on prison culture, as well as the wider communities they operate within.

Throughout this article, we have explored the histories, structures, and activities of some of the most notorious prison gangs in the country, including the Aryan Brotherhood, the Mexican Mafia, the Black Guerrilla Family, Nuestra Familia, the Texas Syndicate, Barrio Azteca, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the Folk Nation, the Crips and Bloods, the Irish Mob, Hell’s Angels, the Simon City Royals, and Dead Man Inc.

The Challenges

The challenges of managing and controlling prison gangs are numerous. First and foremost, gangs often operate with a strict hierarchical structure, making it difficult for authorities to identify and apprehend their leaders. Additionally, gangs use a range of tactics, including violence and intimidation, to maintain their power and influence within correctional facilities. Finally, the recruitment of new members is a constant concern, with gangs often targeting vulnerable individuals for recruitment.

The Implications

The implications of prison gangs’ activities extend beyond the walls of the correctional facilities they operate within. Gangs’ criminal enterprises often extend into the wider community, where they engage in drug trafficking, extortion, and violent crime. Additionally, the presence of prison gangs can lead to an increase in violence within correctional facilities, making it more difficult for authorities to maintain order.

The Importance of Understanding Prison Gangs

Understanding the dynamics of prison gangs is crucial for developing effective strategies to address their influence and safeguard the integrity of the correctional system. By examining the histories, structures, and activities of these gangs, authorities can gain a better understanding of their methods of operation and develop targeted approaches to dismantling their operations.

Ultimately, creating a safe and secure correctional system requires the cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders, including corrections staff, law enforcement, and policymakers. By working together, we can develop effective strategies to address the threat posed by prison gangs and ensure the safety of our communities.

Prison Gangs in the US FAQ Section

What is the Aryan Brotherhood known for?

Answer: The Aryan Brotherhood is known as one of the oldest and most notorious white supremacist prison gangs in the United States, involved in various criminal activities including drug trafficking, extortion, and murder.

How does the Mexican Mafia operate within prisons?

Answer: The Mexican Mafia operates as a highly organized Latino gang within prisons, involving itself in activities such as drug trafficking, extortion, murder, and other forms of organized crime, both inside and outside of correctional facilities.

Why was the Black Guerrilla Family formed?

Answer: The Black Guerrilla Family was formed with the purported goal of dismantling the prison system and addressing issues like racism and the defense of Black dignity in prisons. It is involved in various criminal activities, including drug trafficking and murder.

What differentiates Nuestra Familia from other Latino prison gangs?

Answer: Nuestra Familia originates from Northern California, and it specifically recruits Northern Hispanics, differentiating it from other Latino prison gangs, such as the Mexican Mafia, which is primarily composed of Southern Hispanics.

Is the Texas Syndicate only based in Texas prisons?

Answer: While the Texas Syndicate originated in Texas, it is not confined to Texas prisons and has expanded its operations to other states and federal prisons.

What criminal activities is Barrio Azteca involved in?

Answer: Barrio Azteca is involved in a range of criminal activities, including drug trafficking, murder, and other violent crimes. It has strong links to Mexican drug cartels and operates both within and outside prisons.

How violent is Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)?

Answer: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) is known for its extreme violence and ruthless methods, engaging in activities like murder, drug trafficking, and human trafficking, making it one of the most feared gangs globally.

What is the Folk Nation?

Answer: The Folk Nation is not a single gang but an alliance of several gangs, based predominantly in the Chicago area, involved in a variety of criminal activities, with members of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Do the Crips and Bloods operate in prisons?

Answer: Yes, factions of the Crips and Bloods, originally street gangs, have a significant presence in U.S. prisons and are involved in various criminal activities within the correctional facilities.

What is the origin of the Irish Mob?

Answer: The Irish Mob is one of the oldest organized crime groups in the United States, with members of Irish descent. It has been involved in a variety of criminal activities both inside and outside prisons, originating from various areas.

Do members of Hell’s Angels operate inside prisons?

Answer: Yes, members of Hell’s Angels, primarily known as an outlaw motorcycle gang, have been known to operate inside prisons, involving themselves in criminal activities within the correctional facilities.

Who are the Simon City Royals?

Answer: The Simon City Royals are one of the largest and most violent street gangs, originating from Chicago. They are involved in various criminal activities and have a significant presence inside prisons.

What kind of gang is Dead Man Inc?

Answer: Dead Man Inc is a prison gang primarily based in the Maryland area. It is predominantly composed of Caucasian members and is involved in various criminal activities inside and outside of prison.

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