Casa»Tattoo»The 100 most notorious gang tattoos and their meanings
Tattootattoos for men
Dylan July 4, 2022
July 4, 2022
Tattoos serve a variety of purposes in criminal gangs, with each gang having a more or less secret set of meanings associated with specific designs.
As mysterious as they are intriguing, gang-related tattoos have piqued interest and curiosity for decades.
Gang and prison tattoos
Members of certain criminal gangs and mafia groups inside and outside prison wear tattoos imbued with very specific meanings. These tattoos and their meanings vary from group to group, as each gang has its own "tattoo language" so to speak.
Some gang tattoos are meant totokens of appreciationby the degree and experience of the individual, by the specific skills he possesses or by the crimes he has committed in the exercise of his activity within the group. These tattoos are done voluntarily, which means that the person must agree to receive the tattoo.
But gang tattoos are not always "positive". They are sometimes used aspunishment, often given by force (without the person's consent). These are usually placed somewhere highly visible and impossible to hide, such as the person's face.
For criminal gangs in prisons, tattoos have other meanings. For example, the tattoo could indicate the crime the person committed that resulted in their arrest.
This can be a form of positive recognition, if the crime was seen as beneficial to the criminal group, or punishment, if the crime is something the group disapproves of. The first raises the person's standing within the group, while the other seeks to shame and brand him as a traitor.
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Prison tattoos can also have more neutral meanings, such as the number of times the person has been in prison. In some circles, this is marked with crosses on the person's knuckles: one cross for every prison sentence.
Examples of gang tattoo systems
It would be impossible to list the tattoos of every gang in the world, partly because there are so many and partly because this isn't exactly a well-researched topic.
Many criminal groups are very secretive about their brands, understandably, and don't make them public. Many also use codes and numbers, such as those adopted by the California Crips and Bloods.
os cripsare an infamous gang based in the coastal regions of Southern California, locked in a bitter rivalry with the Bloods. In addition to the use of a three- or six-pointed crown symbol, Crips use codes in many of their tattoos. One way involves replacing individual letters in a word with the letter number in the alphabet: 1 for A, 2 for B, 3 for C, etc.
For example, the numbers 211 tattooed on a Crip member stands for 'BK', which in turn stands for 'Blood Killer', indicating that the individual killed a member of the rival gang, the Bloods.
the bloodsthey also use code forms in their markup. An example is the 13/13 cipher: dividing the alphabet in half and replacing the letters of the first half with those of the second, and vice versa: A becomes N, N becomes A, B becomes O, O becomes B, etc. . .
In addition to code usage, Blood members often have the letters MOB, which stands for 'Member of Blood', tattooed on them. The word 'Piru' is also common. The original Blood gang was called the Compton Pirus (named after West Piru Street in Los Angeles), so this is a throwback to the gang's origins. A dog paw is also a common mark.
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asian gang tattoos
When thinking of crime-related tattoos, one of the top examples that come to mind is the impressive full-body tattoos of the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza. Tattooing in Japan has long had a connection to criminal activity: hundreds of years ago, authorities used facial tattoos to brand and permanently shame criminals.
The Mafia adopted this practice and began branding themselves, to grossly oversimplify a long and complex history.
In fact, extensive tattoos are no longer synonymous with mafia affiliation in Japan: it's impractical, for obvious reasons, and excessively flashy. Especially considering that tattoos are often frowned upon in Japan, many people don't have visible tattoos.
russian prison tattoos
Of the marks given to Russian criminals in prisons, well-known symbols include:
- gato– common for thieves. A single cat means the burglar acted alone, while multiple cats together indicate the theft as part of a criminal group. A cat's head is also considered a good luck tattoo for a thief, although when worn on the chest it signifies the criminal's contempt and hatred of law enforcement.
- Beetle– also a good luck symbol for thieves, usually symbolizing a pickpocket.
- Estrella– In general, each point of the star represents a year in prison. Elite members of organized crime in Russia, known as Vor V Zakone ('thief by law'), use a star with 4 large, 4 medium and 8 small weapons. A Vor V Zakone star on each shoulder indicates a position of high authority within the gang, while stars on the legs or knees signify that the person will not kneel to anyone.
- cruz- subordination or slavery. It can be given by force as a punishment.
- Wifes– Representing five or more years in prison.
- military badge– often means the prisoner was a high-ranking criminal before being arrested.
- Skull– usually means the prisoner is a murderer.
- Barbed wire– when placed on the forehead, it means that the prisoner is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
- birds on the horizon– signify the longing for freedom and mean 'I was born free and must be free'.
General symbols of criminal tattoos
In addition to gang or prison specific tattoos, there are a number of symbols and designs that can have universal meanings in the criminal underworld.
- Tigre- Power and strength
- Spider web- time spent in jail or time spent "caught in the net" of the gang's inevitable lifestyle
- Three points– arranged in a triangle, meaning “jail, hospital, cemetery” – the typical path of a gang member. In some circles, this would be the first tattoo received by an individual before becoming a full gang member. This design is primarily associated with the Mexican Mafia.
- five points– meaning 'a circle of friends' and the protection that comes with being a member of a criminal group. Originally a Vietnamese symbol, it is most commonly used by the Bloods, Gangster Disciples and Asian Triads.
- Clown masks or faces- most commonly associated with Asian and Latino gangs, usually meaning "play now, pay later".
Let's end with an obligatory caveat: most gangs take their individual tattoos very seriously. Some tattoos are earned, in this case those that mark a rank, skill or experience; others are a form of punishment for serious violations of gang rules.
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As such, it would be unwise to go out and get a tattoo associated with a specific gang that has meaning to it. If the 'undeserved' tattoo is discovered, it can have serious consequences for the person. Therefore, it is highly inadvisable to adopt gang markings for aesthetic purposes only.