Gang Codes: An Important Intelligence Source


I don’t like people talking behind my back. I guess that’s why in April 1995, when staff members at the correctional facility where I work confiscated a document that was in code from a gang member, I decided to try and decipher the symbols.

At the time, I had just been made responsible for Security Risk Groups (SRG), or gangs, in my Department. In January 1995, I’d started studying confiscated gang documents and learning how to identify gang members. I was given one day a month of “Department Time” to accomplish this task.

The document confiscated in April ’95 came from a Latin King member and I had become familiar with some Latin King identifiers in my three “working days” since January.

As you can see, the document starts in English and then merges into code (figure 1). The writer thoughtfully separated the coded symbols into words by using parentheses:

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