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  • He's not a tough guy. He would barely  consider himself a criminal, but for one act  

  • of recklessness, he's landed himself in prisonIf intake and processing weren't scary enough,  

  • not to mention humiliating, his walk to the  general population feels like a nightmare,  

  • as if he's living the life of somebody else. The foreboding clanking of doors locking,  

  • the cacophony of other inmates. It suddenly  hits him. He's one of them. That first night he  

  • doesn't sleep a wink, thinking all the time about  what's in store for him. He's well aware there are  

  • gangs in this prison. He's watched documentaries  about prison bullying, about ruthless men that  

  • will rearrange your face for merely accidentally  bumping into them in the chow line. Will he have  

  • to join one of the gangs, so he's protected? God  forbid, he'll be asked to put in work for them.  

  • Just the thought of that is unbearable. Many ex-cons will inform you that anyone  

  • who tells you they weren't the least bit afraid  or intimidated when entering prison for the first  

  • time in their life is lying. Sure, for many people  it might not be as bad as men shouting at you from  

  • their cells as you walk down the landing, all  saying they'll do unspeakable things to you,  

  • but it's also no walk in the park. What we described to you in the intro is kind  

  • of a generic experience for inmates incarcerated  in U.S. prisons, so what you might experience  

  • in a prison in Papua New Guinea, or Sweden, or  Paraguay, might be very different from what you  

  • would experience in a lock-up in, say, Arizona. In  Norway, you might see convicted killers making a  

  • communal meal and chopping onions with a six-inch  knife, or in Brazil, you could see prisoners  

  • walking around with weapons and not even hiding  them. Over in the UK, you might get prison gangs,  

  • but you might also see prisoners sticking  together based more on where they come from,  

  • unlike the U.S., where race is a big factor. No one prison is the same, but in many places,  

  • you're likely going to come across a prison gangthe topic of today's show. Ok, now let's have a  

  • look at some of those gangs. 4. The Aryan Brotherhood 

  • When we're talking about the most feared  prison gangs, of course we're going to  

  • discuss the country that has by a long way the  biggest prison population in the world. In fact,  

  • thanks to the popularity of US movies and TV  shows, we are quite sure all you non-Americans are  

  • quite familiar with violence inside US prisons. In the US, where you're incarcerated will  

  • determine who the most powerful gang is. There  will likely be a mix of powerful gangs but  

  • that doesn't mean they're always fighting. In  fact, to keep the peace and keep the flow of  

  • contraband flowing through prisons it's best  not to cause a huge stir. That only leads to  

  • cell searches and sometimes quite lengthy  lockdowns. This is not good for business

  • One of those gangs that does a huge amount  of business behind prison walls is the Aryan  

  • Brotherhood. It's reported that in California  this gang attempted to create an army,  

  • always looking for new recruits like the guy  described at the start of the show. In terms  

  • of crime, they have their fingers in a lot of  pies. Over decades they've evolved from a bunch  

  • of angry Irish bikers who called themselves the  “Diamond Tooth Gangto an organized crime outfit

  • They go back a long way, starting in  1964. The reason for the beginning of  

  • the pack was to fight back against other  gangs, such as the Black Guerrilla Family,  

  • another very feared prison and street gang. As  smaller gangs amalgamated, they grew larger and  

  • later started getting involved in drugs, drug  trafficking, firearms trafficking, extortion,  

  • robberies, and violence…a lot of violence. Much of their infamy stemmed from instances  

  • of extreme violence inside prisons. If you are  part of this gang, you might at times have had to  

  • cause another person a serious injury, if not kill  them. Even though the prison population doesn't  

  • have more of them than many other gangs, the FBI  has said a disproportionate number of murders are  

  • committed by them. The last available statistics  we can find say they constitute only one percent  

  • of the US Federal prison population but are behind  18–25% of murders. That's why they make this list.  

  • There are plenty of white supremacist gangs in  the US, but we'd say this one is the most feared

  • They have a kind of motto which isblood inblood out”, which should mean that once you've  

  • joined and spilled blood - “made your bonesas  the expression goes - the only way to leave is to  

  • die. That's not always the case, but just turning  around to them while you're still locked up and  

  • saying, “Hey boys, I think I've had enoughGodspeed fellas, toodle-oo”, will very likely  

  • lead to a stiff reprimand. By that, we mean your  blood will be spilled or your life will be taken

  • What was different about them in the prison  system is they started getting organized.  

  • They created a hierarchical power structure  similar to that of the American mafiapeople who  

  • they did business with after offering protection  to mafia boss John Gotti when he was locked up

  • Of the fifteen to twenty thousand membersboth inside prison and outside of prison,  

  • they are all Caucasian. You need to be  to join, and you also have to have served  

  • time or are currently serving time. In the 1980s, they introduced a 12-man  

  • council for votes on various things and  that was overseen by a three-man council.  

  • It was this kind of organization that bolstered  their power. Members were also asked to read books  

  • such as Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Machiavelli's  The Prince, books that talk about warfare tactics,  

  • power, and keeping control. As for maintaining  control, former members said that they learned  

  • from these books that if you are going to  commit an act of violence, make it vicious,  

  • make it a spectacle of fear. This is a snippet from that book  

  • The Prince that gang members should have read: “People should either be caressed or crushed.  

  • If you do them minor damage  they will get their revenge;  

  • but if you cripple them there is nothing they can  do. If you need to injure someone, do it in such a  

  • way that you do not have to fear their vengeance.” Once you have sworn in, you are very likely going  

  • to have to hurt another inmate or even an  officeralthough violence against officers  

  • will always cause them a lot of trouble. Attacking  someone else is sometimes called putting in work,  

  • and the person that gives the green light for that  is called a shot caller. This is not, however,  

  • only something that happens in the Aryan  Brotherhood. They just wrote the rule book

  • They've become so powerful and so  scrutinized in their activities in prison  

  • that it might be difficult for officers to know  who calls the shots, and if they do find out,  

  • that person might be looking at a lengthy  time separated from the general population

  • Sure, there is racism in the gangafter all, they are white supremacists,  

  • but these people are more concerned about their  profitable crime ventures than concentrating on  

  • spewing racial hatred. According to experts  and former members, cash is king, and they'll  

  • do anything to ensure their operations remain  intact, including making a murder so brutal it  

  • sends a strong message to others. This makes them  one of the most feared prison gangs in the world

  • 3. The Mexican Mafia This gang is also known as a prison gang,  

  • as opposed to a regular street gang, although  like the Aryan Brotherhood they don't just operate  

  • inside prison walls. As far as we can tell, these  two extremely powerful gangs have a truce going,  

  • so they are not currently at war. While you've all heard of the various  

  • Mexican drug cartels, this gang is an American  gang, one that some people say is even more  

  • powerful than the Aryan Brotherhood at  least in the California prison system.  

  • It doesn't seem to be anywhere near as bigthough, with roughly 500 full-time members and  

  • another 1,000 associates. As for its affiliations  with other dangerous gangs, well, it has many

  • Like other prison gangs, it started because  groups of people, namely Hispanic people,  

  • wanted strength in numbers inside  prisons. That was back in the 1950s,  

  • but when the gang grew in size it got involved  with illicit drug trafficking, arms trafficking,  

  • human trafficking, extortion, murder, and more. Inside prison, they were renowned for  

  • violence, and as their power grew, they became  more of a danger to other inmates. Many of those  

  • inmates were Hispanics themselves and they also  wanted strength in numbers. Some of them got  

  • together and named themselves the Nuestra FamiliaThis gang became the mortal enemy of the Mexican  

  • Mafia. The conflict between the two has led to  the loss of many lives and will continue to do so

  • They don't have a strict hierarchical structurebut a newbie might be told by older members to put  

  • some work in and hurt or kill another inmateIf that request is turned down, it might just  

  • happen that the budding member is killed himself  or at least hurt badly. If there is going to  

  • be a hit on an established member, the green  light has to be given by three other members,  

  • men who've been in the gang for a while. Again, there's a blood oath you have to swear,  

  • so you spill blood to get in and you aint getting  out easily. People do get out of course, but not  

  • without some risk to themselves. There are rules  to follow, with the obvious that you never admit  

  • there's a Mexican Mafia when talking to the cops. You should also value the gang over family,  

  • or God for that matter, and when you're in prison  you should forget your beef with any other members  

  • that you both had in the streets. If you want inyou must be sponsored by another member, but the  

  • rub is, if you violate the rules he's the guy that  will kill you. Still, the rules also state you  

  • should respect all members as friends and protect  them as if they were your own flesh and blood

  • They've had plenty of conflicts, includingvery bloody one with the Mexican drug cartel,  

  • the Los Zetas. But in Southern  California at least, they command  

  • the respect of all the smaller Hispanic gangs. Then there's the gang's relationship they have  

  • with the very large and very violent street  gang called Mara Salvatrucha, aka MS13. This  

  • gang is transnational and its power structure is  complicated or non-existent, but according to the  

  • Justice Department, its members in California  prisons are allied with the Mexican Mafia.  

  • Other allies include the very dangerous Sinaloa  Cartel, the Italian-American Mafia, and the Texas  

  • Mexican Mafia, among others. On top of that, the  FBI has said that the Mexican Mafia has even paid  

  • the Aryan Brotherhood for contract murders. Now let's look outside of the USA and to  

  • gang members that have mostly experiencedkind of poverty not often seen in America

  • 2. The Numbers Gang Ok, so if you're in this  

  • gang you might belong to the 26s or the 27s or  the 28s. They are a South African gang and can  

  • be found in most prisons throughout the countryThey're not hard to make out because most of the  

  • time they don't exactly hide their number since  it will be tattooed where someone can see it.

  • The numbers gang is more a prison gang than it  is a street gang. Unlike the USA where you'll  

  • find quite a large number of different prison  gangs, in South Africa, one of the most violent  

  • places on Earth in terms of murder, the numbers  gang pretty much runs every prison - the inmates  

  • at least. This is what makes them powerful. Like many gangs, they are organized and follow  

  • a top-down structure. If you're a newbie to  prison, you might find yourself having to join  

  • one of these gangs. Sure, that might not happenbut it's very likely if you don't join you'll be  

  • supporting the gangs in some way. If you refuse to  join and refuse to pay your support money, well,  

  • life might be tough inside prison. When we say structured, we mean it.  

  • Right at the top you have thegovernmentof the  gang that runs things. These belong toThe Number  

  • Onesand they are higher than theNumber Twos.”  Inside both of these structures you'll find judges  

  • and doctors and soldiers and lawyers and clerks  and captains and more. The rule is, you don't  

  • step out of line, but you also do what's expected  of you even if you hold a high position. Heavy  

  • is the head that wears the crown in this gang. In short, the 26s control wealth and that's why  

  • you'll often see a money sign tattooed on themThe 27s protect and enforce the many rules of the  

  • gangs and the 28s mostly concentrate on spilling  blood. It's all very complicated. According to  

  • Human Rights Watch these gangs go back to the  mid-1800s, so it's not surprising they've built  

  • a complex structure. There's been a lot of time  for expansion, so make no mistake, this gang is  

  • all over the prison system in South Africa. Inside prison, they actually do provide some  

  • support given you join the gang at the bottom  and follow the many rules. The problem is,  

  • you might sometimes have to do things you don't  want to do, such as stab a prison guard. The  

  • numbers gang have attacked so many guards it's  a wonder anyone wants that job in South Africa.  

  • Some prisoners have also said that within  the gangs the higher ups have done things  

  • like demanded cash from them to be allowedvisit from a relative, so it's certainly not  

  • all support. There's also the matter of physical  abuse, which happens often within the gangs

  • The scariest thing about the numbers gang is  the initiation, something we imagine most of you  

  • viewers couldn't imagine being put throughThis is how the initiation is for the 28s. 

  • When a new inmate arrives, he gets  asked a question by a gang member.  

  • This member is called a “die glas”, meaning  binoculars, because he will have watched how  

  • the prisoner acted during his first few daysThe new inmate is asked what he would do if  

  • the die glas asked him to help him duringrainstorm - a storm making him wet and cold

  • Would he A, offer to share his umbrella, or B,  join him in the pouring rain? If he answers A,  

  • he will become a slave, sometimes a sex slaveIf he answers B, ok, he can join the gang.  

  • It's not that easy, though, because to join you'll  have to stab another inmate, a prison guard,  

  • or even a warden. In this respect, once you are  in you will have more time added to your sentence.  

  • Thedoctorof the gang will measure the length  of the knife, so that pretty much determines  

  • how hurt, or dead, the victim will be. After this deed is complete the inmate  

  • then has to undergo a kind of initiation  and get hit twice with a pipe. It's then  

  • determined if he should become a warrior 28  or a lower ranking 28, basically a slave

  • To give you an idea of how violent a gang  member can be, one man named John Mongrel  

  • joined at age 14 and immediately stabbed another  prisoner through the heart. He killed a lot more  

  • people in prisons and it's reported he  was involved with the murders of around  

  • 1,000 people. He also once cut the eye out ofguard and committed many, many brutal assaults

  • Of course, if you break the rules you will get  punished. One punishment is having your throat  

  • slit. Another is to ensure you'll be infected  with HIV, and that's done so brutally we won't  

  • go into details here about how it's performedThey call the punishment theslow puncture.” 

  • Lesser transgressions of the rules will result  in getting beaten with things such as padlocks  

  • or sticks. Another punishment might not involve  getting hurt, but you may have to murder someone  

  • who's not affiliated with any gang - perhaps  some fairly innocent dude like the one in the  

  • intro. All this sounds incredibly awful, and  that's why the Numbers Gang makes this list

  • The next gang is arguably even worse. Primer Comando da Capital [PCC

  • This is said to be the most powerful  and ruthless gang in Brazil,  

  • inside and outside of prison. Lately, 75  members of this gang escaped from a prison  

  • in nearby Paraguay. The drug business is good in  Paraguay, so PCC members have operations there

  • The problem is, some prisons in this fairly poor  country are what you might call out of control.  

  • Prisoners with influence and money may havesuite replete with a large TV in their cell,  

  • while those on the bottom of the pile literally  have to scavenge for food in the trash.  

  • They sleep on the walkways where men sit  taking drugs or sharpen their knives,  

  • and no prison officer can do anything about it. After those 75 members fled the prison,  

  • critics said there was nothing the authorities  could do to stop them. They just have too much  

  • power and there are too many police and prison  guards that are poor enough or scared enough  

  • to be susceptible to bribery. After more PCC members started  

  • filling up prisons in Paraguay, violence broke  out. The local gangs soon became outnumbered  

  • because of the PCC's aggressive recruiting  policy. They call being recruited receiving  

  • a “baptism.” If you become a member, you'll  have learned the PCC statute. If you in any  

  • way break the rules it's punishable only by death. In 2019, at San Pedro de Ycuamandyyú Regional Jail  

  • in Paraguay, a riot broke out that was started  by the PCC. During the mayhem some gang members  

  • videoed themselves with their cellphones, armed  with giant machetes and swords. You might ask  

  • how someone manages to sneak such a large weapon  into a prison, but the fact is, the gang is so  

  • powerful they can get weapons brought in for  them. It's basically lawless in those prisons

  • Most of the violence in that riot wasn't focused  on your average inmate, but on rival gang members.  

  • In all, 10 were killed that day and 15 more  were injured. Six of the dead were beheaded,  

  • three were burned, and the other prisoner  was shot to death. So, when we're talking  

  • about violence this gang goes to extremesmore so than any other gang on this list

  • It's their sheer strength outside  prison and their willingness to go  

  • to extremes inside prison that makes  them a force to be reckoned with

  • Their power on the outside can't be  underestimated. This is how one top  

  • cop described how they work. “There's no  way that anyone can stand up to this. They  

  • identify your family, they coerce your  relatives, judges, prosecutors, police.” 

  • Of the 20,000 people belonging to this  gang, around 6,000 of them are in prison,  

  • not only in Brazil and Paraguay, but also in  Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. In 2006,  

  • PCC gang members went on the rampage in the  city of São Paulo. They attacked any public  

  • authority they deemed their enemy. Around  40 members of law enforcement were murdered.  

  • Inside prisons, they killed eight prison guards  and 17 prisoners died. In 71