Criminal Justice Research Papers on Gangs :The Aryan Brotherhood


The Aryan Brotherhood

The Aryan Brotherhood is a gang also known as AB, One-Two, or The Brand.  It originated in the 1960s after the government began to desegregate prisons. White convicts detained at San Quentin were often victimized. Therefore, they formed this gang to revenge on other groups. They especially targeted the Black Guerrilla Family which was a militant group and the Mexican Mafia who victimized White inmates. Irish bikers were the founders of the gang with connections to Charles Manson and the Manson family. The gang was formed under the basic Nazism ideologies and beliefs to undertake the mission of protecting White prisoners from victimization to achieve self-protection. The gang has expanded since 1960s. Consequently, the beliefs and undertakings have evolved and increased. For example, the gang also seeks to provide members with an identity and purpose. Thus, it does not accept new members unless they kill a Hispanic or a Black prisoner. This has led to the adoption of the ‘blood in/ blood out’ motto since members believe quitting is not an option but rather death. In 2002, prison authorities affirmed that the gang’s influence in prisons had been increasing since approximately twenty-nine gang leaders manipulated operations in prisons across the country. The actual number of members is unknown. In 2001, the gang’s membership was estimated to be two thousand. The number however has increased as it was estimated at over fifteen thousand in 2013 (CM, 2011).

According to Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the gang’s strongest influence is witnessed across prisons in Texas ruling within and outside prison settings. The gang’s influence can be witnessed across California. Its weak influence is witnessed in prisons mainly comprising of Black inmates and members of Crips and Black Guerilla Family gangs. Their activities revolve around criminal activities for power, authority, money, and hate. These crimes are drug trafficking, gambling, money laundering, burglary, home invasions, identity theft schemes, and prostitution among others. The gang has proven to be dangerous by engaging in high profile criminal activities. For example, Steven Cooke who was detained for life imprisonment for committing murder was sentenced to eighty-seven months in prison. In 2012, Cooke pleaded guilty for aggregately assaulting gang prospects by brutally beating them for violating gang rules. In 2011, Steven Scott was sentenced by a federal judge to four hundred and fifty months in prison for hate-motivated arsons he pleaded guilty of committing in December 2010. The gang also proves to be dangerous by ensuring members take an oath asserting that they care less while engaging in heartless vengeful criminal acts (Coverson, 2006).

Black Guerilla Family

This is an African American gang also known as either the Black Family or Black Vanguard. Founded in 1966 by Nolen and George Jackson at San Quentin State Prison in California, its beliefs were inspired by Marcus Garvey to formulate African America Marxist Leninist ideologies during the Black Power Movement. The gang’s mission is therefore allied to eradication of racism especially against members of the African American community, maintenance of dignity among prisoners, and the need to overthrow the government. According to FBI, the gang has been spreading in prisons as well as the streets. For example, prison systems in Maryland have affirmed the gang’s activities have been impacting prisons and streets rapidly in attempt to ensure their criminal undertakings progress naturally when members are either poisoned or released back to the communities. This progression has also been witnessed in other prison systems including California. Baltimore however is acknowledged as the gang’s stronghold. The gang is acknowledged as a well organized group engaging in dangerous criminal activities to exert power, gain control, and enhance financial influence. It has faced legal indictments for peddling drugs, engaging in robberies, money laundering, and running prostitution rings. Its members have also been involved in diverse criminal activities resulting in brutal assaults and deaths. According to FBI, the gang’s criminal activities within prison influences undertakings in the streets. The gang has therefore ensured it maintains its dangerous influence in prisons as well as in the streets as witnessed in January 2013 (Porter, 2015).

Correction officers at Baltimore City Detention Center were preparing for a search in the middle of the night. They were determined to root out drugs, weapons, cell phones and contrabands prisoners had stashed illegally. These plans were however communicated to the gang after Tavon White tipped the gang using his phone. The gang’s ‘minister of finance’ relied on the tip to collect dues and levies before funneling the money to gang leaders outside prison. This incident has been applied by FBI to affirm the gang has infiltrated federal, state, and local authorities to gain influence, power and authority posing danger to other inmates and people in the streets.  FBI has also prosecuted prison officers especially from Maryland for conspiring and running operations on behalf of the gang (David, 2010).

The Folk Nation

The Folk Nation also referred to as the Folk gang is an alliance of street gangs based in Chicago. In November 1978, Larry Hoover formed this gang in Illinois Department of Corrections. He, the leader of Gangster Disciple Nation developed the idea of forming a gang by persuading leaders of White, Black, and Latino gangs to form an alliance. Folk Nation’ belief is based on the ‘All for One’ mentality in order to sustain and enhance the alliance. Thus, the gang’s mission is to protect the alliance by attacking and fighting individuals and groups posing to be a threat. The gang’s strongholds can be witnessed among prisons in Chicago.  The strongholds are maintained by ensuring the members are from diverse races and communities in Chicago. It impacts operations undertaken among the twenty state and private prisons in Colorado and Denver. Its weak strongholds can however be located in Texas due to the massive impact from Aryan Brotherhood (FBI, 2014).

A report was released on 2014 affirming the gang’s leader had been sentenced for twenty years by New York FBI field office. This however has not hindered the gang to grow and expand. More so, it engages in criminal activities enhancing the gang’s influence, power, authority, and financial strength. For example, they steal and smuggle drugs including heroin and cocaine within and outside prisons. They also steal cash, prison commissary foods, televisions, and commit crimes linked to murders, homicides, and brutal assaults while providing protection to white inmates. For example, D-Bloc pleaded guilty of racketeering, brandishing of firearm, attempted murder, and robbery conspiracy before a federal court in New York. The gang is therefore dangerous posing great security threats in the nation (FBI, 2014).

The Mexican Mafia

Mexican Mafia also known as La Eme is an organized criminal organization comprising of Mexicans and Americans that originated in United States. It is the most powerful gang in California with more than three hundred official members and nine hundred associates to assist in carrying out criminal activities. It came into existence in 1957 formed by Michael Cardiel and thirteen Hispanic gang members from Los Angeles. Various gangs including MS-13 show allegiance to this organization by using the number thirteen. It was formed to achieve the mission of protecting members from other gangs in prison. The founder, Luis Huero Buff was an active member of Hawaiian Garden Gang in California when wars between Hispanic groups were rampant in 1950s and 1960s. He developed the belief that, the gang ought to develop self-sustaining entities. As a result, violent members are hired to infiltrate and control black markets and prisons. Thus, it strives to terrorize prison systems in order for the members to enjoy their stay as they serve time. The gang’s strongholds are diversified across the country. Their main stronghold is in Los Angeles (Walker, 2012).

The gang engages in diverse criminal activities including arranging contract killings carried out by Aryan Brotherhood. Homosexuals that are not openly accepted as members are required to sustain prostitution rings in prison. The gang’s main source of income however involves extortion from drug distributors while distributing narcotics in prison as well as in the streets. The gang is therefore regarded as powerful, influential, and dangerous. For example, it applied its power in 1992 exerted by the leader, Joe Morgan, to ensure Surenos should not experience anymore drive-by shootings and violent attacks.  In 2006, federal indictments proved the gang has been growing and expanding at a rapid rate in order to exert influence and power in federal and state prisons through violence, threats, and extortion (Walker, 2012).

MS 13

MS 13 is a criminal organization that was founded in Los Angeles in 1980s by Salvadoran immigrants in Pico-Union from Central American civil wars. The gang was formed based on the belief that, it ought to protect Salvadoran immigrants from more established gangs in California comprising of Mexicans and African Americans. Its mission therefore is to engage in violent criminal activities enhancing the gang’s smuggling undertakings. This has enabled the gang to expand into Washington DC including Takoma and Langley parks. The gang declared Maryland as the center of its activities prompting FBI to form a task force to engage in operations aimed at maiming the organization. This proves the gang has been growing and expanding prompting major law enforcing organizations to pay attention and devise measures to curb its capacities (David, 2010).

In 2009, it was estimated that at least ten thousand gang members residing in United States form the organization enabling the group to engage in diverse violent and dangerous activities. For example, in 2005 United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement commenced the Operation Community Shield. In 2011, more than three thousand gang members had been arrested through the operation without maiming the organization. It is therefore acknowledged as a growing criminal gang that recruits violent persons to engage in dangerous activities. These criminal activities include smuggling of human beings, drugs, and weapons as well as child prostitution (Howard, 2012).


Gangs across United States are meant to commit criminal, violent, and dangerous activities. Thus, they share similar beliefs despite being founded by different members in diverse time periods. Their threat levels are also similar as their influences, powers, and impacts are witnessed across diverse state and federal prisons as well as streets in United States. Their criminal activities are also similar as they engage in violent undertakings posing harm and danger in attempt to exert authority and enhance power. For example, they engage in drug smuggling and peddling, extortion, and prostitution for financial gains. However, they differ on how they identify their members. For example, all gangs comprise of members with tattoos. The tattoos however differ as they are designed differently with diverse meanings to suit the gang’s beliefs, mission, and culture.



Coverson, L. (2006). Aryan Brotherhood tried for 40 Years of Prison Mayhem. ABC News.

Crime Magazine (CM). (2011). Blood In, Blood Out: the Violent Empire of the Aryan Brotherhood. Crime Magazine Report.

David, S. (2010). The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System. Oxford University Press.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). (2014). People and Folk Nation: Law Enforcement Bulleting. Wayback Machine.

Howard, L. (2012). MS 13 Gang Labeled transnational Criminal Group, A First for US Street Gang. CS Monitor Review.

Porter, T. (2015). Bloods and Crips Gangs Reject Claims of Kill-a-Cop- Pact. International Business Times.

Walker, R. (2012). The Mexican Mafia Prison Gang Profile, Background and History a Security Threat Group. New York, New  Mexican Mafia.