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Thursday, September 28, 2006

US Prison Gangs - Mexican Mafia

The Mexican Mafia (MM) or "La Eme" (EME) is a prison gang in the United States. It was formed in the 1950s by chicano street gang members incarcerated at the Deuel Vocational Institution, located in Tracy, California. The founding members formed the organization to protect chicanos from other prison gangs. By using violence, the Mexican Mafia eventually gained significant power and control over illegal activities in the California prison system. As members were released from state custody they extended their influence outside the prison system to control drug distribution — principally by "taxing" drug dealers — in parts of Southern California.


State and federal law-enforcement officials say that the Mexican Mafia today is composed of at least 30,000 members, some in state prisons, but many more freely roaming Southern California, using intimidiation, extortion and murder to control much of the region's more lucrative criminal activity. In addition, the gang has numerous associates who aspire to become members and are willing to commit crimes on the Mexican Mafia's behalf in hopes of attaining membership.

Title: Battle Against Mexican Mafia Opens New Front in Court
Source: New York Times, Nov. 26, 1996
Author: Ayres, B Drummond Jr.

The Mexican Mafia requires a vote of three members to make a new member or murder an existing member, but does not require a vote for a member to kill a nonmember.

Mexican Mafia members have to follow four rules, they cannot:

  1. Be an informant
  2. Be a homosexual
  3. Be a coward
  4. Disrespect or politic against another member.

Death is the automatic consequence for violation of any of the first three rules, and only a member can carry out the murder of another. While in prison, the Mexican Mafia expects its members to engage in drug trafficking, extortion, and any other activity to acquire money and exert power and control over other inmates. Outside prison, Mexican Mafia members meet regularly to discuss and vote on actions in furtherance of the members' illegal activities.

The Mexican Mafia are Sureños. Leadership of the Mexican Mafia is split between two rivals, one of whom comes from one of East L.A.'s Maravilla gangs while the other comes from the Inland Empire's South Ontario Black Angels gang. Both rival Mexican Mafia groups have opened up peace talks under the protection of the Industry Heads (IH). IH is a notorious Los Angeles based syndicate with a blood in blood out membership.

Communication in prison

In prison, Mexican Mafia members communicate by having meetings in the exercise yard, sending messages through visitors or inmates who were transferred between prisons, and passing small notes known as "kites" or "wilas". Further, Mexican Mafia members operate under a "code of silence", which obligates them to deny any membership in or knowledge of the organization.

According to the FBI, EME has ordered contract killings to be carried out by another vicious prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood.

Criminal Injustice: Confronting the Prison Crisis


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