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Mexican Mafia

Not to be confused with Mexican Drug cartels.

Mafia Mexicana, Mexican Mafia or La eMe
Organization's name tattooed on member's abdomen.
Founded 1957[1][2][3][4][5]
Founder Luis "Huero Buff" Flores[1]
Founding location Deuel Vocational Institution, California, United States[1][4][5]
Years active 1957–present[1][2][3]
Territory USA federal prison systems,[6] California Prison System,[6] and 12 other states.
Ethnicity Mexican-American
Membership 350–400 active members[6][7]
Criminal activities Murder, money laundering, arms trafficking, drug trafficking, kidnapping, pandering, racketeering, extortion, human trafficking, illegal immigration, fraud and illegal gambling
Allies Gulf Cartel, Sureños, MS-13, Aryan Brotherhood, Florencia 13,[8] Armenian Power,[9][10] Sinaloa Cartel,[4][11][12] 18th Street[13]
Rivals Crips, Bloods, Texas Syndicate, Nuestra Familia,[4][14][15] Norteños,[11] Black Guerilla Family,[8][16] Ñetas, Latin Kings

The Mexican Mafia (Sureños, including MS-13 and Florencia 13,[17] use the number 13 to show allegiance to the Mexican Mafia. M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Law enforcement officials report that La eMe is the most powerful gang within the California prison system.[18] Government officials state that there are currently 155–300 official members of the Mexican Mafia with around 990 associates who assist La eMe in carrying out its illegal activities in the hopes of becoming full members.[7]


  • History 1
    • Rise 1.1
    • New Mexican Mafia 1.2
  • Culture 2
    • Rules 2.1
    • Allies and rivals 2.2
    • Symbols 2.3
    • In popular culture 2.4
  • Criminal activities 3
    • 1970s 3.1
    • 1980s 3.2
    • 1990s 3.3
    • 2000s 3.4
    • 2010 to present 3.5
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The Mexican Mafia was formed in 1957 by Michael Cardiel and 13 [15]


By 1961 violence got so bad at the Deuel Vocational Institution that administrators transferred a number of the charter La Eme members to San Quentin Penitentiary in the hopes of discouraging their violent behavior. This tactic failed. Cheyenne Cadena arrived on the lower yard of San Quentin and was met by a six-foot-five, 300-pound black inmate who planted a kiss on his face and announced this scrawny teenager would now be his 'bitch. Cadena returned a short time later, walked up to the unsuspecting predator, and stabbed him to death with a jailhouse knife, or shank. There were more than a thousand inmates on the yard and no witnesses stepped forward.[15] A string of other slayings soon followed as La eMe members sought to establish a reputation among the inmates of San Quentin. The Mexican Mafia's quest for complete control alienated many other Mexican-American inmates who were fed up with Mexican Mafia stabbing, killing, and stealing their watches, rings, cigarettes and anything else of value. Some of them secretly founded a new prison gang called La Nuestra Familia (NF) or "Our Family." It was first established in the mid-1960s at the California Training Facility in Soledad. Some of the early members were from the Los Angeles area, but NF soon drew inmates primarily from rural communities in Northern California. The Mexican Mafia saw Nuestra Familia as inferior and "just a bunch of farmers", or farmeros. However, in 1968 at San Quentin, a full-scale riot broke out after a Mexican Mafia soldier, or soldado, stole a pair of shoes from a Nuestra Familia sympathizer. Nineteen inmates were stabbed and one La eMe associate ended up dead. The battle became known as the "Shoe War" and it established Nuestra Familia as the major La eMe rival.[15][19]

New Mexican Mafia

La eMe should not be confused with the New Mexican Mafia. Around 1974, a group of Hispanic inmates at Arizona State Prison, Florence, formed a prison gang known as the Mexican Mafia.[20] Arizona Department of Corrections officials at that time obtained information that this group patterned themselves after the California Mexican Mafia which had been in existence for several years. Several Hispanics who came into the Arizona Prison System brought the concept and philosophy of the California Mexican Mafia.[20] In 1978 the Mexican Mafia split into two organizations. One kept the original philosophy and structure and currently refer to themselves as the Original Mexican Mafia, "Califas Faction", "EME".[20] The other, which came into prominence in 1984 and refer to themselves as the New Mexican Mafia. Many assaults and murders of members of both groups have occurred as a result of each organization claiming the title of "Mexican Mafia" within the Arizona prison system. They have created their own rules and regulations and have established an organizational structure.[20] Each member is allowed to vote on issues regarding membership and leadership. The leader, approved by the members, has the power to solely decide important issues. Some of their members were previous La eMe members.[20]


Law enforcement believes that La eMe presently is not presided over by a single leader. Many Mexican Mafia members have the authority to order murders and oversee various other criminal activities. They have almost a thousand associates that help carry out those orders and have the theoretical control of all Sureño gang members.[7][16] Members are expected to engage in tests of their loyalty to La eMe, which may include theft or murder. The penalty for refusing orders or failing to complete an assigned task is often death. According to the gang's constitution, members may also be punished or murdered if they commit any of four major infractions. These include becoming an informant, acts of homosexuality, acts of cowardice, and showing disrespect against fellow gang members. According to gang policy, a member of the Mexican Mafia may not be murdered without prior approval by a vote of three members, yet the murder of non-members requires no formal approval.

During the early 1960s at

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation file on the Mexican Mafia
  • Mexican Mafia on the History Channel

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e Mexican Mafia. (2012). The History Channel website. Retrieved 10:45, February 2, 2012, from
  2. ^ a b c Valdez, A. J. (2011). Prison gangs 101. Retrieved from
  3. ^ a b c d e Rafael, T. (2007). The Mexican Mafia.(p. 171-185, 237-267) New York, NY: Encounter Books.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Mallory, S., & Mallory, S. L. (2012). Understanding organized crime. (2nd ed., pp. 218–220). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Barlett Learning.
  5. ^ a b c d Ortega, F. (2008, February 8). Mexican mafia's roots run deep in san gabriel valley. The Whittier Daily News. Retrieved from
  6. ^ a b c d e Lawrence, E. F. U.S. Government Accountability Office, (2010). Combating gangs: Federal agencies have implemented a central american gang strategy, but could strengthen oversight and measurement of efforts (GAO-10-395). Retrieved from website:
  7. ^ a b c United States v. Shryock, 342 F.3d 948 (9th Cir. (2003), cert. denied, 124 S. Ct. 1729 and 1736 (2004)
  8. ^ a b Walker, R. (2012). The mexican mafia prison gang profile, background and history a security threat group - stg. Retrieved from
  9. ^ U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2011). Armenian power organized crime group targeted in federal indictments that allege racketeering offenses, including bank fraud schemes, kidnappings, and drug trafficking. Retrieved from website:
  10. ^ Blankstein, A., & Linthicum, K. (2011, February 17). Raids targeting armenian gang net 74 fraud suspects. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from
  11. ^ a b c d Bruneau, T., Dammert, L., & Skinner, L. (2011). In 2009 they start killing and kidnapping innocent woman in Texas. Maras: Gang violence and security in Central America. (pp. 3, 23, 24, 27–30, 32, 259). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
  12. ^ a b c Abadinsky, H. (2010). Organized crime. (9th ed., p. 189-190). Belmont, CA: Wadesworth Publishing.
  13. ^ Mexican Mafia: Dangerous Gang
  14. ^ Nuestra Familia. (2012). The History Channel website. Retrieved 10:59, February 2, 2012, from
  15. ^ a b c d Blanchard, C. (2008). The black hand: The bloody rise and redemption of "boxer" enriquez, a mexican mob killer. (p. 1-408). New York, NY: Harper-Collins Publishers.
  16. ^ a b c d Lyman, M. D. (2011). Drugs in society: Causes, concepts and control. (6th ed., p. 240, 279). Burlington, MA: Anderson Publishing.
  17. ^ "FBI — 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment – Emerging Trends.
  18. ^ a b Harris, D. (2004). Gangland: The growing gang epidemic in America's cities. Oakland, TN: Holy Fire Publishing.
  19. ^ McShane, M.D., & Williams, F. P. (1996). Encyclopedia of American prisons. (pp. 345–346). Taylor and Francis.
  20. ^ a b c d e Arizona Department of Corrections. Security Threat Group Unit. (2012). New Mexican Mafia. Retrieved from website:
  21. ^ Blatchford, Chris (2009). The Black Hand: The Story of Rene "Boxer" Enriquez and His Life in the Mexican Mafia. HarperCollins. p. 50.  
  22. ^ a b "Gang and Security Threat Group Awareness". Florida Department of Corrections. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  23. ^ a b c d "An 'American' tale". Entertainment Weekly. 1993-07-23. 
  24. ^ American Me
  25. ^ Walker, Michael (1993-07-23). "". Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  26. ^ Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Inestivation. (n.d.). Aryan brotherhood. Retrieved from website:
  27. ^ a b c "Mafia Handed 22 Indictments in LA". The Tech. 1995-05-02. 
  28. ^ a b c Lowrey, B. (2012, January 29). Exclusive: Gang bust gives rare glimpse of mexican mafia's grip on north county. North County Times. Retrieved from
  29. ^ Ng, Christina (9 June 2011). "Latino Gang Charged With Racial Cleansing Attacks in California Town".  


See also

In early 2012 there was a federal indictment of 119 San Diego County gang members, including a Mexican Mafia boss that was arrested in a raid of his San Marcos home, portrays a sprawling, well-organized criminal network that ran drug dealing on the streets of North County and even extended inside the Vista jail.[28] Rudy Espudo, 39, was in control of the Hispanic gangs in the area and forced drug dealers to pay taxes in tribute to La eMe or face the consequences.[28] The local gangs were smuggling narcotics into the Vista Detention Center in order to sell them for the Mexican Mafia. On North County streets la eMe ordered Surenos to obtain taxes from the local drug dealers.[28] Members of the Azusa 13 gang, associated with the Mexican Mafia, were indicted in 2011 for harassing and intimidating black people in Southern California.[29]

2010 to present

In 2006, a 36-count federal indictment was brought against members of the Mexican Mafia. The arrests were made for alleged acts of violence, drug dealing, and extortion against smaller Latino street gangs. According to the federal indictment, Mexican Mafia members exert their influence in both federal and state prison systems through either violence or the threat of violence. Members and associates of the gang remain fiercely loyal to the criminal organization both in and outside of prison, particularly in Southern California cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego. The gang asserts its influence over Chicano gangs throughout Southern California by threatening violence against their members should they ever become incarcerated. Gangs and drug dealers who refuse to pay a protection "tax" to the Mexican Mafia are often murdered or threatened with murder. High-ranking members of the Mexican Mafia who are locked in private cells for 23 hours of each day are still able to communicate with their associates, through methods which range from tapping in code on prison plumbing pipes to smuggled letters. The primary goal of the Mexican Mafia is to control all drug trafficking in all areas that they have been established.[16]


[27]. The indictments marked a two-year investigation by federal, local, and state law enforcement officials.American Me Another indicted member was accused of having plotted the death of an anti-gang activist who served as a consultant for the film [27] One of the arrested members, Benjamin "Topo" Peters (Arizona Maravilla), was allegedly the Mexican Mafia's highest-ranking member at the time, and was engaged in a power struggle with fellow member Ruben "Tupi" Hernandez (OVS).[27] In 1998, United States federal authorities indicted 22 members and associates of the Mexican Mafia, charged under the federal


Alfred Arthur Sandoval a.k.a. Chato (Arizona Maravilla), a high ranking eMe member, shot and killed Gilbert Martinez and Anthony Aceves; a third victim "Manuel Torres survived the attack. Ray and Marlene Wells were also shot execution style in their home in Belvedere Park. Alfred Sandoval was also charged in these murders. Finally in 2000, Alfred Arthur Sandoval, the highest ranking Eme member (now) in California, had his death sentence for the murder of Marlene Wells overturned by the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.


The first murder outside of prison that was ordered by La eMe occurred in 1971 when Mexican Mafia member Alfonso "Pachie" Alvarez was found shot twice in the head in a secluded area of Monterey Park. His offense: collecting taxes on narcotics dealers without kicking up the profits to eMe leaders behind bars, known in the gang as "Big Homies" or Emeros.[5] The person responsible for the murder was protégé Rodolfo Cadena, the Mexican Mafia often took control over various community groups. The gang was able to filter money from alcohol and drug prevention programs to finance their criminal activities.[3] The Mexican Mafia and the Italian-American Los Angeles crime family collaborated in skimming money from Get Going, a taxpayer-funded drug treatment program. By 1977, Get Going founder Ellen Delia was determined to expose the infiltration of her beloved program. Shortly before an appointment with the California State Secretary of Health and Welfare Services, Delia was murdered. Her collection of evidence on Italian and Mexican Mafia infiltration of the Get Going program was never recovered.


[11] Between April, when the edict was announced, and September 1992 there were no drive-by shootings in East Los Angeles and this area was notorious for violence and drive-bys.[11] According to the

Criminal activities

[23] The Mexican Mafia received mainstream notoriety after being featured in the 1992 movie

In popular culture

Mexican Mafia symbols include images of a black hand. The gang's primary symbol, which is often used in tattoos by members, is the national symbol of Mexico (eagle and a snake) atop a flaming circle over crossed knives. Street gangs that are aligned with the Mexican Mafia often use the number 13 as a gang identifier, as the letter "M" is the 13th letter of the modern Latin-derived alphabet.


The Mexican Mafia is the controlling organization for almost every Hispanic gang in Southern California. Members of almost all Hispanic gangs in Southern California are obliged under the threat of death to carry out any and all orders from made Mexican Mafia members. The Mexican Mafia also holds a loose alliance with the Aryan Brotherhood, mainly due to their common rivals within the prison system.[12] The primary rivals of the Mexican Mafia are Nuestra Familia.[22] The Mexican Mafia is also a rival of the Black Guerrilla Family prison gang, which holds a loose alliance with La Nuestra Familia. Bloods and Crips are the new enemies.[22]

Allies and rivals

  1. "Snitching"" A member may not be an informant, or rat.
  2. "Cowardly"" A member may not be a coward.
  3. "No fighting among members"" A member may not raise a hand against another member without sanction.
  4. "Disrespecting"" A member must not show disrespect for any member's family, including sex with another member's wife, or girlfriend.
  5. "Stealing"" A member must not steal from another member.
  6. "Interfering"" A member must not interfere with another member's business activities.[21]

According to Rendon El 42, the rules are:



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