Index » Gangs
Gangs represent a very serious problem to Mexico’s security, and even to some certain areas in the United States.
There are literary numerous gangs that operate in Mexico and in the United States. Some of them have thousands of members and some only a dozen or so.
A certain gangs have millions, or even billions, of dollars whereas many other gangs struggle with money, and are involved in so called “purse snatching” activities.
Even though there are many differences among gangs, cartels, mafia enterprises, criminal organizations, or whatever they like to call themselves, there are several things they all have in common.
First and foremost they are all breaking the low; they are making life miserable for the ordinary people, and their main instrument of “business management” is violence and terror.
Some of the criminal activities that Mexican gangs are involved in are: drug trafficking, murder, weapon trafficking, kidnapping, rape, racketeering, gambling, extortion, witness intimidation, conspiracy, torture, etc.
As you can see none of these activities are noble or romantic. In fact they are everything but that.
The term “Mexican gangs” is usually associated with a group of Mexican teenagers, or young people with stereotypical fashion statements that are living in mama’s house and hangout in front of a liquor store, or at some corner, and hassle people out of their wallets or purses.
Even though there are street gangs that operate in this way, they are more a group of dysfunctional, angry, and disappointed teenagers, and immature men, than a criminal organization.
Of course that doesn’t mean that they don’t represent a serious problem for the society and that problem shouldn’t be addressed.
Unfortunately there are gangs (e.g. Mexican Mafia, Drug Cartels) that are far more organized and dangerous than street corner dysfunctional adolescents. These gangs number tens of thousands of members, have a long history as well as very developed hierarchy and the way of functioning. They are very powerful, rich and dangerous.
There are many Mexican gangs in Mexico and in the United States that pose a serious threat to the security of both countries.
In Mexico, some prisons are literary run by the certain Mexican gang or a gang coalition that numbers few strongest Mexican gangs in that prison.
Many prisons in the United States have serious problems with strong, ruthless and well organized Mexican gangs as well as Mexican prisons do.
However, the prison system in the United States if better organized and it is far more difficult for any gang to run the prison as it is the case in some Mexican prisons or some other prisons in Latin America.
Unfortunately gang problems are not limited to the prisons in the United States but they are also present in many American neighborhoods, towns and cities, especially those that are close to the Mexican-American border.
The Mexican gang slang, symbols, and terror is very much present in certain American neighborhoods; so much so that even the police don't enter those neighborhoods, which is very alarming fact for all of us.
We are supposed to live in free America and be its free citizens however it seems that Eme (Spanish letter M-refers to Mexican Mafia), Efe (Spanish letter F- refers to Nuestra Familia, Mexican gang) and other Mexican gangs enjoy more rights than ordinary American citizens in certain towns.
I am an ordinary Mexican American living a simple but fulfilling life. I have a wife and three great children. My oldest sun who is 14 is thinking that it is "cool" to use the Mexican street-gang- slang.
I just hope that once he goes to collage he would forget about that street linguistic garbage and that in the future something else would be "cool" for teenagers to imitate.
There is no Mexican gang that doesn't require gang tattoos.
Mexican gangster tattoos are used for many reasons such as showing gang membership, Mexican pride, intimidating others that are not members of the gang, to show one's rank in the gang, his preference of certain weapon, the number of people he had killed, type of crimes he had committed, his remorse, the time he had served in the prison, etc.
Mexican gangs are very Mexican oriented and use every chance to show that they are proud to be Mexican, or of Mexican origin, which is why the most frequent colors that are used by Mexican gangs in their tattoos are the colors of the Mexican flag - green, white and red.
This so called patriotism is one of the reasons why young people and adolescents that are Mexicans or of Mexican origin decide to become members of a certain Mexican gang. Other reasons are protection, belonging to some social group, "easy" money and very short fame.
Unfortunately adolescents are easy targets for the gangs and more than 90% of people that have joined any gang in Mexico, United States and other countries have done so before they turned eighteen. In other words gangs survive across the world because we are not able to protect our children from them.
Numbers and initials are very frequent in Mexican gang tattoos. For example, the number 18 (East Cost Mexican Gang), the number 13 or the initials "M.M" and "E.M.E" (Mexican Mafia), Number 14 or the initials "N.F" and "N.S" (Nuestra Familia), and so on.
Other type of symbolism is also used for the gang identifications such as triangle of three small dots which is the identifying tattoo mark of the "Los Vatos Locos" Gang.
Since Mexicans in general are very religious praying hands are very common in Mexican gang tattoos as well as certain phrases such as "Perdoname Mi Madre" (Forgive me, Mother), "There is God, but not here", "Waiting to be judged", "Living is hard, dying is easy", "My Crazy Life", etc.
There is virtually no Mexican prison inmate that doesn't have a lot of tattoos.
All of those tattoos have a certain meaning, and if you know how to read them you can learn a lot about people that have them.
Some of the things you can learn about a person from his tattoos are: his name, his origin, what crime he had committed, what is his favorite weapon, where he has been, the name of his loved one, how many people he had killed, his religious beliefs, membership to a certain prison gang and so on.
The identification tattoos for Mexican prison gangs are the number 13, an eagle holding a snake in his mouth, black hand, and the initials M.M or E.M.E (Mexican Mafia); the initials N.F or N.S, a sombrero laid over a machete covered in blood (La Nuestra Familia); a triangle of three small dots (Los Vatos Locos).
Very frequent symbols of Mexican prison tattoos are guard towers, barbed wire and cell windows and doors which indicate timed served in prison.
Tear Drops often represent that an individual wearing it has killed someone, and the number of the tear drops represent the number of the victims.
A tattoo of the knife or some other weapon indicates the person's favorite weapon or a weapon the crime was committed with.
Prison tattoos are very popular in prisons because if you have them that means that you are protected, which can save your life in prison. However, on the other side it can also cost you a lot, including your life.
Great majority of prison inmates join the prison gangs in order to have protection however it is not easy to join a prison gang. An individual must prove himself usually by killing another inmate or committing some other crime. It is only after this that the prison inmate is accepted as a member of the gang and is allowed to wear prison gang tattoos.