10 Horrifying Facts About Notorious Gang Initiations

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While gangs are known for their violence towards rival groups, along with officers of the law, little is reported on their victimization of their own members. Gaining membership into a gang is no small feat, and requires a willingness to expose oneself to pain, suffering, and possibly one’s own demise. With that, we’d like to present you with 10 horrifying gang rituals for membership in the world’s most violent gangs.

10. MS-13 Worships Satan

One of the most violent gangs in the United States is MS-13. Originating in Los Angeles, Mara Salvatrucha was founded in the 1980s by Salvadoran immigrants residing in the Pico-Union neighborhood. The notorious gang was made up of Salvadoran immigrants, who came to the United States after the Central American nation was torn apart by a civil war that consumed the country in violence.

Initially, the purpose of the gang was to protect Salvadoran immigrants from other, more established gangs in the Los Angeles area; however, as their membership and strength grew, the gang is now known for its drug trafficking, racketeering, robbery, and a whole host of other violent crimes.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the gang is their Satanic rituals. Numerous cases have been cited that demonstrate the gang’s incorporation of Satan in their culture, with instances where MS-13 members have been charged with sacrificing teenage girls to the god of the underworld. While the use of devil horns as a hand signal has been a very prominent part of the gang’s culture, the revelations by a female kidnapping victim that a fellow hostage was killed for insulting a Satanic shrine was news to prosecutors.

Miguel Alvarez-Flores, 22, and Diego Hernandez-Rivera, 18, were charged with multiple counts of kidnapping, and murdering 15-year-old Genesis Cornejo. In court testimony, the prosecution revealed a statement made by one of the defendants in regards to victim who insulted the shrine.

“The beast did not want a material offering, but wanted a soul,” Alvarez-Flores said, according to the prosecutor.

9. Hells Angels Drown in Pee and Poop

There are many different accounts on the foundation of the well-known biker gang Hells Angels. One of them holds that the Hells Angels started on March 17, 1948 in Fontana, California by the Bishop Family and World War II veterans. Soon after, members of different motorcycle clubs like the Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington (yes, that’s their real name) joined the collective.

Another account of their origin claims that the gang was founded in San Francisco and organized in 1953 by Rocky Graves, a Hells Angel member from San Bernardino.

Either way, the Hells Angels motorcycle gang soon engaged in a variety of violent crime, including drug trafficking, prostitution, trafficking in stolen goods, and extortion. Membership consists exclusively of white men. Hells Angel member Sonny Barger in 2000 remarked, “if you’re a motorcycle rider and you’re white, you want to join the Hells Angels. If you black, you want to join the Dragons. That’s how it is whether anyone likes it or not. We don’t have no blacks and they don’t have no whites.” However, admission is not even easy for white male hopefuls. According to author Hunter S. Thompson, “a bucket of dung and urine will be collected during the meeting, then poured on the newcomer’s head in a solemn baptismal.”

And because the Hells Angels are particularly fond of their death’s head insignia, it’s apparently the task of the newcomer to now allow the feces and urine to spoil his new uniform.

8. Triads Drink Blood

One of the oldest criminal organizations on our list, the Triad, has a powerful influence in the underworld controlling extortion, drug trafficking, gambling, and prostitution. While the exact origin of the criminal enterprise is unknown, many point to the Communist party’s control of mainland China with the rise of the Triad in British occupied Hong Kong. The organization has grown since then and currently has membership in countries like France, Belgium, and even some documented cases in San Francisco. Membership is cited at nearly 55,000 people around the world.

Joining the Triad is not a simple task. Membership begins with a ceremony. Incense smoke burns at an altar, and a chicken or a goat is sacrificed. That’s only the beginning; it get weirder. A candidate must then drink a potion composed of wine and the blood of the animal or of the hopeful member, then he must “pass beneath an arch of swords reciting an oath.”

It goes without saying that if a candidate does not live up to his oath, he’ll eventually get the sword.

7. Aryan Brotherhood Dominates American Prisons

One of the most vile prison gangs in the United States, which you may recall was depicted in the film American History X, is the Aryan Brotherhood. Despite only making up 0.1% of the prison population, they’re responsible for 30% of murders in federal prisons. The Aryan Brotherhood commits a wide array of organized crimes including drug trafficking, prostitution, extortion, and murder for hire.

Some of the terminology used by the Aryan Brotherhood that represents a candidate’s entree into the organization is “making your bones.” In order for a white male to become a member of the Aryan brotherhood, he has to kill someone, most likely a black prisoner or a prison guard.

Another frightening aspect of their ritualistic culture is “Blood in, Blood out,” which signifies the idea that entree was gained by spilling blood, and the only way out of the brotherhood is death.

6. Latin Kings Must Kill a Rival Member

The largest Latino gang in the United States, and possibly the world, is the Latin Kings.  Started during the 1950s in Chicago, the organization has spread to 34 states with illegal activities including racketeering, murder, extortion, and drug trafficking. A rival group called the Gangster Disciples are prime targets for potential members.

In order to be initiated into the Latin Kings, a prospective member must “hunt down members of the Gangster Disciples by flashing GD hand signals.” According to reports, if someone responds with the GD hang signals then that person is an automatic target. The Latin Kings, along with prospective new new members, will engage in a “drive-by shooting and the new Latin King recruit is expected to participate in the kill.”

5. Knights Templar Eat Human Hearts

One of the most gruesome and appalling Mexican Cartels is the Knights Templar (Los Caballeros Templarios). It consists mostly of the disbanded Mexican criminal organization La Familia Michoacana. Members are initially indoctrinated in a “fight and die” mantra for the cartel, but as time has passed, potential members have been forced to show an even greater degree of loyalty to the cartel.

Documented cases have been reported of members being forced to eat human hearts. According to local officials, making members eat a human heart was used as a method to find traitors.

“The ritual ranged from dismembering people they intended to kill to sometimes serving up the heart,” Alfredo Castillo, a local official said.

4. United Blood Nation Gang Spreads Across the USA

Probably one of the most well-known African-American gangs in the United States is the United Blood Nation, which later turned into the separate entity: the Bloods. The United Blood Nation, like many other gangs on our list, was initially formed for protection from Latin Kings and Ñetas who were targeting the African-American gangs in Rikers Islands George Motchan Detention Center (GMDC). After being released from prison, members began recruiting new recruits and engaged in distribution of crack cocaine, smuggling of drugs into prison, and murder of rival factions.

The most widely known subsection of the United Blood Nation was the Bloods gang that was founded in Los Angeles to combat the growing power of the Crip Gang. Outnumbered greatly by the Crips, the Bloods used a violent initiation procedure before a new Blood was allowed into the group. The prospective member would have to fight other members of the group to prove they could withstand physical attack and protect their brothers in the future.

3. The Crips Were, At One Point, the Most Dangerous Gang in LA

As mentioned earlier, the Crips were a notorious gang that was based in Los Angeles. Founded in 1969 by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams, the gang has more than 30,000 members; however, the numbers have been slowly declining in recent years. Like the Bloods, the Crips initiation was fairly straightforward, if not perilous: endure a beating at the hands of your group and gain entry.

However, in some cases more can be demanded of a member. In Sanyika Shakur’s memoir, Monster, he chronicles not only having to defend himself against being jumped by the gang but also participating in an armed assault on a rival gang. Imagine overcoming that and being given a pump action shotgun at the age of 14.

2. Roto Gang: the Robin Hood of Gangs

An arrest of a female youth, Phindile Penelope Pompi, in 2015 gives us a fascinating look inside one of South Africa’s most notable gangs. Roto Gang is a violent manifestation of the Robin Hood creed, “rob from the rich and give to the poor.” Initiation into the group entails a new member helping to rob an affluent home in Johannesburg.

On the first of September in 2005, Pompi thought she was being initiated by participating in a gang robbery in the wealthy area; instead, she witnessed the murder of a Roto Gang member, including watching him being butchered. She testified to witnessing an argument amongst the group, then one of the gang members stood behind one of the arguing members, firing a shot into the back of his head.

Pompi would go on to say that they disemboweled the victim and and cut off his genitals.

1. Numbers Gang Controls South African Prisons

One of the most fear-inducing prison gangs in South Africa is the Numbers Gang. Although they primarily operate in the Western Cape prison of Pollsmoor, they have spread and now operate in nearly all the major prisons of South Africa. Consistent with many of the other gang origin stories, the Numbers Gang history is stuff of legend and folklore with a wise leader, Po, advising fellow black South Africans against going to the mines to die. Instead, Po advises a group of them to begin to fight back against the colonial system and they begin to engage in acts like highway robbery. The gang would later separate into two different units, but this served as the basis of the Numbers Gang. Like most criminal organizations, they have a hierarchal structure, here broken into numbers: 26s, 27s, and 28s.

According to reports, the 26s are responsible for gambling, smuggling, and accruing wealth; the 28s are the soldiers or warriors who must fight on behalf of the groups; and finally, the 27s were the made to keep law and order and subsequently peace amongst all three units. The numbers gang seems to be logical, and has a reasonable division of labor. However, it’s how a member is put into a specific group that is disturbing. A prospective new member is given a riddle: “It is raining. You are standing under an umbrella. I say to you I am getting wet; I may get sick. What are you going to do?”

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Somehow, an inmate’s offer of an umbrella for his fellow member results in him becoming a sex slave, while offering to stand in the rain with his fellow prisoner results in them becoming brothers until death.


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