Gang codes: Not hiding in plain sight

Gang identifiers are deeply ingrained in every gang member


Gary Klivans is a retired Captain from the Westchester County (NY) Department of Correction. Please visit his columnist page to read all of his articles about prison gang codes.

By Gary Klivans

Gangs are secret societies who advertise their identity. They hide in plain sight. Gang members wear colors, have identifying tattoos, flash hand signs, put up graffiti and use symbols in their codes that help to identify them and their gang affiliation.

But sometimes gang members want to hide their gang affiliation; these cases are the exceptions that make the rule. The following gang code sample was confiscated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in New York, and sent to me to try to decipher. The officials at BOP said the code was from a “high-ranking” member of the Bloods gang.

As I examined the document, the first thing that I noticed was that there were no Bloods gang identifiers, but the folks at BOP were adamant that the writer was a member of the Bloods.

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