June 15, 2008
The War on Drugs has become the longest most costly and dangerous war in American history
By Michael Webster: Investigative Reporter
Laguna Journal

As America wages its war on drugs and terror with costs to the tax payer in the billions; organized criminal gangs here in the U.S. have merged with the Mexican drug cartels. The threat to U.S. interests from the emerging international crime cartel grows more serious every day. 35 years after Nixon started the war on drugs the War on Drugs has become the longest and most costly war in American history. The Drug War is a disastrous failure.

The American war on drugs shows how money, power and greed have corrupted not just drug dealers and drug users, but how it can corrupt entire governments like Columbia, South America, Mexico and yes, the U.S.  The critical question – what can be done about it? The track record to date is dismal.

Groups like the Sinaloa, Juarez, Tijuana, gulf Cartels, has virtually taken over law enforcement and high ranking Mexican government officials in their host country. These  dangerous and significant players on the international stage, carry  out their criminal activities across borders at will and threaten the stability and interests of the United States. In other words they are a big security threat to this nation.

Fresh evidence (Congressional Research Service) of this growing threat comes from the powerful Mexican cartels themselves which is already responsible for up to 80 percent of the cocaine that reaches the United States. They are increasingly able to operate above the law, buying off or even killing the government officials who are supposed to work with U.S. law enforcement agencies to crack down on crime.

What’s worse, the cartels have now forged alliances with American street gangs, giving these drug cartels a deep reach into American life. Through these alliances with our gangs, this drug network  gives them control over most of the multi-billion dollar American drug trade, the largest in the world. These cartels have become a world-wide crime corporation with an international reach of illegal franchises spanning the globe.

Mexican drug cartels have extended their reach across America through gangs, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). While cartels battle each other and the Mexican government, various Mexican and American gangs are buying drugs directly from foreign producers in places like Peru, Afghanistan, Belize and Bolivia, officials say. A report two years ago by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) revealed that U.S. gang members were recruited by drug cartels. With their connections, the gangs have become professional criminal organizations not unlike the mafia.

The Mexican army patrolling the streets of the Mexican cities bordering the U.S. report that in the last several weeks, at least 50 criminals and drug traffickers arrested there were members of U.S. street gangs, Mexican cartel gangs and other traditional” prison gangs.”

In addition to the “traditional” prison gangs, there are many other lesser known, but none the less dangerous, prison gangs. These gangs frequently align themselves with other gangs who may have similar cultural or criminal beliefs. In some instances prison gangs (and street gangs) have been known to have truces with rival gangs strictly for the purpose of facilitating their criminal activities; i.e. supply and distribution of narcotics.

Although the following gangs usually have the largest number of members in the corrections system in which they originated, many have spread (through the interstate compact system) to other state departments of corrections as well as the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The following is a short list of known U.S. gangs involved in drug trafficking and other crimes that are or are suspected of having ties with Mexican cartels and/or Mexican cartel gangs.

Bloods Gangs

Crips Gangs


18th Street Gang

Asian Gangs

Mara Salvatrucha


The Arizona Aryan Brotherhood is a white supremacist group whose members believe in having pure bloodlines in the white race. The group formed in the Arizona Department of Corrections in the mid 1970’s.
The Arizona AB believe in the philosophy of “Blood In – Blood Out.” To become a member, the prospect must kill someone. The only way out of the group is to be killed.
Members stay to themselves in prison and feel that they do not need the help of any other gang. They are generally respected by the other inmates because of their ability to control and monitor their own activities.


This gang is also known as the Arizona Original Mexican Mafia. Established in 1977, it is a faction of the Mexican Mafia that was formed in the California prison system in the late 1950’s. In 1984 a split occurred and a second gang, known as “Arizona’s New Mexican Mafia” emerged. A fierce rivalry developed between the two gangs and the Old Mexican Mafia, as well as Mexican Mafia members are subject to attack by the New Mexican Mafia members if they are placed in the prison population together.

The Old Mexican Mafia patterns itself after the organizational structure of the California Mexican Mafia, which includes as its leaders a General, Captains, Lieutenants, and soldiers.

In 1984 this group was formed as a result of a split from “Arizona’s Old Mexican Mafia.” In order to be completely independent of the other Mexican Mafia gangs, the gang adopted its own constitution, rules and regulations.


The ABT originated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in the early 1980’s. It is patterned after the California Aryan Brotherhood who sanctioned the use of their name.
A council, or steering committee, provides leadership. This committee approves prospective members, makes decisions on gang rules, and is responsible for resolving problems between members. The committee is also the authority, which issues orders for “hits” or “contracts.”

Adversarial rivalry exists between the ABT and the Mandingo Warriors, La Nuestra Familia, Black Guerilla Family and other black groups.

ABT gang members frequently attempt to hide their gang affiliation by claiming to be members of the Aryan Nations, which preaches white supremacist views as a religion


The newer white supremacist gang in the Texas prison system, they are making a name for themselves and growing quite violently with deadly attacks against the Texas Aryan Brotherhood. It is believed that a suspected Aryan Circle prospect was responsible for an officer’s murder at a southern prison in TDCJ in December of 1999. Following that vicious murder, another Aryan circle member stabbed and killed an ABT member at a nearby facility.

According to sources, the AC was founded in 1985 by Mark Gaspard and was formed due to the fact that some “Whites” had become too radical in their beliefs. The AC is believed to consist of three branches; incarcerated men and incarcerated women and an external branch which consists of non-criminal “White” men in the free world. The original AC patch, or tattoo, is a small circle usually worn below the left breast. Their hierarchy consists of a president, vice president, majors, captains, and several other titles.

Beliefs of the AC include separation of the white race from all others for the betterment and preservation of the race. They consider their enemies to be all who are against them and those who attempt to oppress them. Some members are ex-ABT members. The AC have now been designated as a Security Threat Group and members, when identified, are place in administrative segregation.


Originating in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (Department of Corrections) the Barrio Azteca’s activities were first tracked within in the system about 1990. Many of the original inmate members were from the West Texas area of El Paso but since organizing, they have permitted some inmates from other parts of the State of Texas to join their ranks.
Like other prison gangs they attempt to control the prison system, and the inmates within the system, through illegal activity. Reported criminal activities have included drugs, prostitution, extortion, intimidation of staff, assaults, and murder.

The organizational structure of the Barrio Azteca is as follows: President, Vice-President, Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant and Warrior.

They do not have a specific tattoo but have been known to use an Aztec Indian head. A tattoo with one feather signifies the rank of lieutenant and two feathers, the rank of captain.
Barrio Azteca members are known for their propensity for violence and membership is for life. Serious association with members of other prison gangs such as the Texas Syndicate, La Raza Unida, Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and the Mexican Mafia is not tolerated.


The name of this gang is believed to have originated in the federal system in 1985 and stems from the name of a prison softball team. As the name implies it is a “white” gang but does not appear to have white supremacy philosophies. It is found in many of the Federal Institutions and is associated with the Aryan Brotherhood, Texas Syndicate, Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and possibly the Mexican Mafia.
A members tattoo is referred to as his “patch” and includes the outline of his home state (Texas, California, etc.)
Criminal activity primarily involves drugs.

AKA Pistoleros Latinos

When translated the name of this group means the “Brotherhood of Latin Gunmen.” Also known as the HPL, the group was founded in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in the mid 1980’s. The HPL has been reported to be involved in many criminal activities to include gambling, inmate assaults, protection rackets, staff intimidation and murder.
Internal problems within the group forced a division among the members

and today one faction calls itself the “Sixteen – Twelve,” or 16/12. These numbers refer to the 16th and 12th letters of the alphabet; P/L or “Pistoleros Latinos.” The other faction calls itself the “Forty-Fives,” and uses as one of its known tattoos, the .45 caliber automatic pistol. Although operating as separate factions, the groups follow the constitution and other rules of the HPL.

Membership is for life and membership is for inmates of Latin origin only; persons who speak Spanish or who are descendants of Latin or Hispanic families.


The Los Solidos gang formed about 1990 or 1991. It was formed for reasons of “self protection” and is basically comprised of two street gangs from Hartford, Connecticut – the “Ghetto Brothers” and the “Savage Nomads.” Translated Los Solidos means “the solid ones.”
The Los Solidos are considered to be a prison gang in Connecticut correctional facilities and they are also active in the streets of Hartford and Waterbury, CT.

A committee which includes an executive president, vice president and five executive “stars” governs the Los Solidos.

The members identify themselves by wearing a bandana that is half blue and half red. This comes from the original colors of the Ghetto Brothers (blue) and the Savage Nomads (red); the combined colors denote solidarity between the two groups.


Translated, Mexikanemi means “Free-Mexican.” This gang formed in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in 1984 and is also known as the Mexican Mafia. (Note: This gang is sometimes mistaken as the traditional Mexican Mafia of California. It is a separate group.) The Mexican Mafia also refer to themselves as La Eme (Spanish pronunciation for the letter “M.”) while the Mexikanemi sometimes refer to themselves as EMI.
After forming, the group rapidly grew to become the largest gang in the Texas system (numbers reported only as “Mexican Mafia”) and became known for criminal activity to include extortion, drugs and murder. They state that they will conduct any criminal activity that will benefit their advancement including contract assassinations.
The Mexikanemi has a constitution and is structured along paramilitary lines with a President, Vice-President, General, Lieutenants, Sergeants and Soldiers.
A Mexikanemi member must be prepared to give up his life or to take the life of someone else at any time.


According to an article in the California Correctional News, the Nazi Low Riders are the fastest growing gang in the California prison system. They originated in California Youth Authority during the 1970’s at Preston School of Industry, and recently have developed a power base from within Los Angeles and Orange Counties in Southern California. From this power base, the NLR have spread hate throughout the State of California and the prison system.
They seem to recruit white members in the prison system from smaller, less active prison gangs whose members are “looking for a place to park their anger, hatred and predatory ways.”
Over 1,000 NLR members have been identified in the system and because of their propensity for violence toward staff and other inmates there is grave concern.

It is believed that some of the NLR are aligned with, and owe allegiance to the Aryan Brotherhood. Other members of the NLR see themselves as a separate entity that will do anything to be more violent than the AB.

Tattoos usually are the letters NLR. Other tattoos may include swastikas, pictures of Adolph Hitler and other Nazi imagery.
From The Prisons To The Streets: The Nazi Low Riders Emerge In California
NOTE: The NLR are not limited to the State of California. They are rapidly spreading to many other parts of the United States.


The New Mexico Syndicate is also known as the Syndicato Nuevo Mexico. It has a close alliance with, and subscribes to, the philosophies of the Mexican Mafia. The SNM gained notoriety after the riot in the New Mexico State Penitentiary in 1980. The SNM is considered to be the most violent and most powerful of all of the Security Threat Groups within the New Mexico Department of Corrections.
SNM members follow a chain of command and are led by a Don (General) and a group of long time, respected inmates, called “The Panel.” The general membership is known as soldiers. Known enemies of the SNM are members of another Hispanic group known as Los Carnales. (meaning: The Brothers)

Northern Structure

It is believed that the Northern Structure is a spin-off of La Nuestra Familia. This may have occurred due to the Federal RICO prosecution of many LNF members in 1982. The NS is an ethnic organization with primarily Hispanic members that is sometimes known as Nuestra Raza or NR (Our Race). Its primary gang activity is narcotics trafficking. The group is antagonistic towards the Mexican Mafia and the Texas Syndicate.

NS members display many tattoos used by La Nuestra Familia. They also use XIV (fourteenth letter of the alphabet РN) to show alliance with the Norte or Norte̱os of Northern California. The Aztec eagle may also be seen in their drawings or tattoos.


It was noticed that some of the Mexican nationals were grouping up and running in tight circles. The origins are still vague but they hang together for protection due to the fact they are off-limits to being recruited by the other gangs. The HPL are the only ones that actually have recruited a few of them. The PRM (Partido Revolucionario Mexicano) are said to be the more cultured, dignified of the two and rumor has it they are also aligned with the PRI (Mexican Political Party). The Mexicles are those not good enough to join the PRM. It is hard to tell the difference between the two as they write the same lingo and are pretty closely knit. They are very violent because of them not wanting to be deported when they are released from prison. There are generals for the different regions and are well organized. The PRM do have a tattoo but only a few have been seen on offenders.
They have been known to side with the TS, Barrio Azteca and MM, depending upon the unit and the situation. They are rapidly growing.


The TM originated in the Texas Department of Corrections in the early 1980’s and is comprised of predominately white convicts and ex-convicts. It is known as an organized crime-type entity.
Many of the members are drug traffickers and have extensive knowledge about drugs and trafficking. Members often specialize in methamphetamine and many have close ties with motorcycle gangs. The TM will commit robberies, burglaries, thefts, etc. for other gangs for 15% of the value of the goods.
This gang has displayed a propensity for violence and has been reported to have been involved in inmate homicides. They have also been linked to “outside” criminal activity.
The Texas Mafia and the Texas Syndicate have very close ties and they refer to the TS members as their cousins. They have been known to carry out “hits” for the TS.
Tattoos may be found on the right forearm or behind the right shoulder. Texas Mafia rules dictate that a TM inmate must be tattooed before leaving the Texas Department of Corrections.


Back in the 1980s, the Bombers began as a break dance crew. This was not a money making venture so they did petty crimes. The leaders of the group wanted to take the group to a higher level. A confirmed Texas Syndicate member, who saw the potential in the group, took them under his wing and schooled them with the blessing of the TS. Both the Bomber and Brotherhood constitutions mirror the TS’s. One of the leaders came to prison and was intent on keeping the Bombers alive, however, he made friends with those out of the Valley (South Texas). He knew they could never be Bombers so he created the Brotherhood. He was soon on the outs with the Mexikanemi (MM) and the Raza Unida. He then hid behind the skirts of the TS too much thus causing them to cut him loose. The Brotherhood and Bombers at this time do not get along and were at war. As of this writing, they have signed a six month peace treaty which has been slow to hit the streets of the Valley.
Congressional Research Service (PDF)
This Report comes from Michael Webster, and see his website at The Laguna Journal.