Criminal Activities
The Mexican Mafia partakes in many illegal activities both in and out of prison such as extortion, drug trafficking, and murder. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Aryan Botherhood has been known to carry out contract killings for the Mexican Mafia.

In 1971 the Mexican Mafia committed the first street gang execution in Los Angeles. While under control by Rudy Cadena, La Eme took over many community groups in the 1970’s. In order to finance their criminal activities, the gang filtered money from drug and alcohol prevention programs. The United States federal authorities indicted 22 members of the Mexican Mafia in 1995 under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act with crimes including kidnapping, extortion, and murder. Benjamin “Topo” Peters, the Mexican Mafia’s highest ranking member, happened to be one of the many arrested. In 2006 the federal government indicted Mexican Mafia members for alleged acts of violence, drug dealing, and extortion against smaller Latino street gangs. The Mexican Mafia is a merciless organization and will not hesitate to solve any dispute with violence, kidnapping, theivery or death.

The Spoils of War

The influence of the Mexican Mafia is exerted both in federal and state prison systems through either violence or through the threat of violence. La Eme even established a protection “tax” for their drug dealers. If the drug dealers refuse to pay the tax, they are either killed or threatened with death. The highest ranking or the most dangerous members of La Eme are confined to their cells 23 hours a day and still manage to find ways to deliver messages to their associates. The delivery methods they utilize consist of tapping in code on prison plumbing pipes or smuggling letters.


The members of La Eme associate their membership through the use of tattoos. A common symbol of the gang, which was adopted from the Italian Mafia, is the Black Hand symbol. Their main symbol often seen tattooed on members is the national symbol of Mexico. The number 13 is also used as a way to identify Mexican Mafia members since the letter “M” is the 13th letter of the alphabet.
Black Hand Symbol

Page 4: Gang Slang and Bibliography
By: Rachelle Cochran