- Politics and Social Issues
Norteno Street gangs.
Terry Davis 11-2003
Are gangs operating in your community?
Norteno street gangs
Street gangs have been with us for over 60 years. The Norteno street gangs got their start inside the California Prison system. There are varying stories on how the Nusetra Familia or NF originally started. The bottom line is that Hispanics from Northern California were subject to threats, extortion, and any other prison crime that you could think of. These crimes against them were at the hands of the Mexican Mafia or Sureno street gangs, and many viewed the prison guards as enemies also, due to the way they were treated. The final insult was over a pair of shoes, which later became known as the shoe wars. A Northern Hispanic inmates shoes were stolen and given to a Mexican mafia inmate. The owner of the shoes ended up assaulting the Mexican Mafia inmate that had the shoes. This incident brought together the Northern Hispanic inmates and created the Nustera Familia. In the early to mid 1960s at Soledad Correctional Training Facility, during a cell search of a Northern Hispanic inmates cell. The Nuestra Familia's, constitution along with numerous other documents were found that gave an inside look at the structure and operation of the Nuestra Familia inside the prison system and on the streets.
The Nuestra Familia was organized in a military fashion with, generals, capt's, Lt's, and soldiers. They lived by a document referred to as the 14 bonds, which spelled out the duties of a gang member and the punishments for acts considered treason or cowardise. As members of the NF were paroled back to their neighbors, they became active in all kinds of street crimes and began organizing and recruiting.
The NF today acts as a giant umbrella that covers all Norteno street gangs. Individuals that show an interest and willingness to carry out activities that support and enhance the gangs reputation or that brings money to the gang are noticed and then groomed for promotions with-in the gang. As they progress in their training and are judged to be good soldiers they gain respect and move up the ladder of the gang, which includes becoming a carnale, or brother in the cause, or struggle.
The identifiers for the Nuestra Familia (NF) are the color red and the number 14. Originally in the California prison system inmates were issued railroad type hankerchief's, they came in two colors, red and blue. The Mexican mafia and Sureno inmates used the blue to identify themselves and the NF used the red. The number 14 stands for the fourteenth letter of the alphabet, the letter N, for Norteno. Later during the United Farm Workers (UFW) organization they introduced a flag consisting of the Mexican eagle. The emblem of the eagle was taken by the NF, referred to as the Welga Bird, and incorporated as a tattoo to identify NF members. Today, you may still see the tattoo but it is becoming less common. Other tattoo's will be dot's tattoo'd on the hands, arms, elbows, face, or any other place on the body as well as the number 14. The dot tatto's will usually be either one dot on the left hand, and 4 dot's on the right hand. Later, the Northern star tattoo became popular and was a five point star, which signified that for each streight line with-in the star the individual carring the tattoo had completed a mission for the gang. When the star was filled in to a solid star, the individual had committed some act of great violence for the gang. The NF has also used the Aztec number symbols to indicate the number 14 on their tattoo's. Tatto's are constantly changing and today many either do not get them, as the authorities use them to validate gang members, or they try to hide them with-in other tattoo's.
The NF also has become involved in music, that glorifies the gang and it's activities and denounces it's rival gangs, the Mexican mafia and the sureno street gangs. Most notable was the G.U.N. label which stands for the Generation of United Nortenos. These lyric's glorfiy and encourage gang violence, and are used to incite gang members to violence, as well as make money.
These gangs initially were confined to their neighborhoods, or barrios and considered these areas as their terrortory. However, today they have become more mobil, they consider towns, cities, area codes and regions as their terrotory. The use of firearms and the willingness to use them with no concerns for innocent victims has made these gangs more and more dangerous. Gang members, like all criminals prefer to go about their business un-noticed by the general population.
To learn more about the gangs and gang symbols used in your area, you can attend gang awareness meetings put on by schools, and local law enforcement agencies. Education, recognition and action is what is needed in our communities to eradicate gangs and protect our families and communities. Gangs count on the fear of citizens to take action. It's time for us to take back our children, neighborhoods and cities, from gangs. If you have information contact your local law enforcement by phone, or computer and you can give them the information they need to stop the violence, with-out identifying yourself.