Security Threat Groups/Gangs in Prisons

In our prison systems today, many different gangs pose a threat to our correctional staff and other inmates. In the United States, gangs exist in forty of the fifty states. These gangs bring violence, drug trafficking and racial unrest to our correctional system. The Aryan Brotherhood was formed in 1967 in San Quentin State Prison in California. They were originally comprised of Irish decent and former members of the fifties biker tips such as the Diamond Tooth Gang and The Bluebird gang. The Aryan Brotherhood was founded by Dallas Scott to fight the Black Guerrilla Family and was originally a white supremacist group.

By 1975, the Aryan Brotherhood was throughout the California Corrections system. (2006). As their notoriety increased and the memberships grew, they established a chain of command modeled on the structure of the Italian Mafia. They communicated through a third party and established drug trafficking, security, extortion and gambling rackets in prisons. Leaders with multiple life sentences worked out of solitary confinement in some of the highest security prisons in the US. Now, the Aryan Brotherhood is no longer racially motivated. Instead, they are now focused on power in the system.

They now work closely with the Mexican Mafia as one of their greatest allies. The Aryan Brotherhood is well known in several prisons. These include San Quentin State Prison in California, California State Prison, Pelican Bay State Prison in California, United States Penitentiary Marion Federal Prison in Illinois, Folsom State Prison in California, California Institution for Men, Harris County Jail in Texas, Estelle High-Security Unit in Texas, Garner Correctional Institution in Connecticut, Lompoc Federal Prison in California, High Desert State Prison in Nevada and Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.

An example to show how dangerous the Aryan Brotherhood can be within the prison walls starts with Thomas “Terrible Tom” Silverstein. Silverstein started the Aryan Brotherhood and DC Blacks race war by killing Raymond “Cadillac” Smith in 1982 by stabbing him 67 times in the Marion Control Unit and dragging his body up and down the tier so that those in locked cells could see. In addition, forty members have been indicted of federal racketeering charges in a 140, 10-count indictment. The indictment reached back over 20 years, spanning three decades and 32 murders.

A majority of those involved in the indictment are already serving life sentences and now 23 are eligible for the death penalty. (2006). George Jackson, a former Black Panther member, in San Quentin State Prison in California, founded the Black Guerrilla Family, or BGF, in 1966. They were originally called the Black Family or the Black Vanguard and had links to the Black Mafia. Some were former members of the Black Liberation Army, Symbionese Liberation Army and Weatherman Underground organization. The BGF is the most politically oriented of the major prison gangs.

They formed as a Marxist/Maoist/Leninist Revolutionary organization with goals to eradicate racism, struggle to maintain dignity in prison and overthrow the United States government. The BGF is strongly organized on the east and west coasts of the US. In the 1990’s, there was a decline in membership and strength. The BGF has recently reorganized and gained substantial power and growth with their alignment with the 415s, Crips, Bloods and Black Gangster Disciples. The BGF is currently experiencing internal conflict with old and new membership in federal custody.

The newest members formed “New Man/New Woman” or the Northern Structure of the BGF. Criminal activities include drug trafficking and murder. Examples of how dangerous the Black Guerilla Family can be in our prison system starts on August 7, 1970. Masked and heavily armed BGF militia members raided the Marin County Courthouse in San Rafael, California in an attempt to free BGF founder George Jackson who was on trial for capital murder. They attempted to kidnap Judge Harold Haley causing law enforcement to open fire. The judge, a bailiff and one BGF member were killed in the shootout.

George Jackson survived, was apprehended and sent to maximum security San Quentin. The Folk Nation is not one specific gang. It is an alliance of many gangs. These gangs are the Black Gangster Disciples, the Black Disciples, Gangster Disciples, La Raza, Cobras, Eagles, Latin Disciples, Maniac Latin Disciples, Simon City Royals, Spanish Gangsters, Two Sixers and the International Posse. Folk Nation was formed on November 11, 1978 within the Illinois Department of Corrections. Larry Hoover, the leader of the Gangster Disciples, created the idea for the alliance of these gangs.

Folk Nation is based in the Chicago area and has spread throughout the US and Canada, specifically in the Midwest and South. The Mexican Mafia was founded by Luis “Huero Buff” Flores in 1957 at Deuel Vocational Institution in California. The territory of the Mexican Mafia includes the US federal prison system and Southern California. The Mexican Mafia is involved in extortion, drug trafficking and murder in the prison system. The purpose of the Mexican Mafia was to show their Maya and Aztec heritage as well as protect its members from prison guards and other inmates.

Now they focus on primary ethnic solidarity and control of drug trafficking. Federal and state authorities began going after the head of the Mexican Mafia, which caused dozens of members to go to the police and “spill the beans”. High-ranking members halted new recruitment, which has caused the doors to the Mexican Mafia to close for the time being. Examples of how dangerous the Mexican Mafia is in our prison system starts on February 6, 1993. Mexican Mafia members murdered Jose Uribe in Los Angeles County jail to keep him from testifying in a court trial. Another example took place in 2002.

Mexican Mafia members stabbed prison inmate Jabilia Barragan to death at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville, California because he disrespected one of the gangs Lieutenants. MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha was formed in the 1980’s in Los Angeles as a self-defense mechanism against rival Mexican gangs after fleeing death squads in civil-war-plagued El Salvador. MS-13 is known to be the largest gang in North America. It consists of mostly Salvadoran nationals or first generation Salvadoran-Americans as well as Hondurans, Guatemalans, Mexicans and other Central and South American immigrants. The MS-13 operates in at least 42 states.

Their population is highest in the western and northeastern states. MS-13 is involved in drug trafficking and distribution and murder in the prisons interiors. They are located in several California State Prisons, Long Island, New York, Norfolk City Jail in Virginia and southern Maryland. MS-13 is also involved in illegal immigration and human smuggling into the US. On May 13, 2006, Ernesto “Smokey” Miranda, an ex high-ranking soldier and one of the founders of MS-13, was murdered in his home in El Salvador a few hours after declining to attend a party for a gang member who was just released from prison.

Miranda was studying law and working on keeping his kids out of gangs. On July 13, 2003, Brenda Paz, a 17 year old female and former MS-13 member turned informant was found stabbed on the banks of the Shenandoah River in Virginia. Two former friends were later convicted of her murder. On June 22, 2008, in San Francisco, California, 21-year-old MS-13 member, Edwin Ramos, shot and killed a father, Anthony Bologna, 48 and his two sons, Michael, 20 and Matthew, 16 after their car briefly blocked Ramos from completing a left turn down a narrow street as they were returning home from a family barbeque.

The gangs that were mentioned all are trying to become the one with the most power. Their way of getting power is by intimidation. Murder is common in all of these gangs also. Some of these gangs are more extreme than others such as MS-13. They use their affiliation any way they can, even killing innocent people. Most of these gangs focus their rage at their rival gangs. No matter how it is put, all of these gangs pose a threat to our correctional staff. They are all violent and they do not care what is in their way, they will just remove the obstacle.