Mara Salvatrucha Tattoos
Mara Salvatrucha a.k.a MS, Mara, and MS-13 is a criminal gang that began to operate in Los Angeles in the 1980s. The MS has spread across the United States and Central America with startling speed, boasting tens of thousands of members. They deal ruthlessly with competing gangs and any members who display disloyalty, often leaving a trail of dismembered corpses in their wake. They are poised to surpass the Mafia as the country’s most organized criminal network. And by operating within the insular Central American immigrant communities, the Mara Salvatrucha has been able to easily elude law enforcement agencies. Many Mara Salvatrucha members cover themselves in tatoos. Common markings include “MS”,”13″, “Salvatrucha”, the “Devil Horns”, the name of their clique.(Link)
The Russian Criminal Tattoos
Russian criminal tattoos have a complex system of symbols which can ‘read’ to give quite detailed information about the wearer. Not only do the symbols carry meaning but the area of the body on which they are placed may be meaningful too. The initiation tattoo of a new gang member is usually placed on the chest and may incorporate a rose. A rose on the chest is also used within the Russian Mafia. Tattoos done in a Russian prison have a distinct bluish color and usually appear somewhat blurred because of the lack of instruments to draw fine lines. In addition to voluntary tattooing, tattoos are used to stigmatize and punish individuals within the criminal society. ‘Grins’ may be placed on an individual who fails to pay debts in card games and often have very blatant sexual images, embarrassing the wearer.(Link)
Extensive body tattoos (‘body suits’) are commonly worn by Yakuza members. These traditional tattoos are known asIrezumi in Japanese. Their size and elaborate nature show not only the wearers’ affiliation, but also his ability to endure pain. Instead of being used for ritual or status purposes, tattooed marks began to be placed on criminals as a punishment. Tattooing was legalized by the occupation forces in 1945, but has retained its image of criminality. For many years, traditional Japanese tattoos were associated with the Yakuza and many businesses in Japan (such as public baths, fitness centers and hot springs) still ban customers with tattoos.(Link)
Traid is the western name given to a Chinese secret society (because of the importance of the triangle, representing the harmony of Earth, Heaven, and Man, in the initiation ceremonies). Triads take part in the full range of criminal activities that most other forms of organized crime gangs do, with a few extra as well. Tattoos have been proudly worn by members of the triads since Qing Dynasty times. The tattoos are often elaborate, covering much of the body, and feature Chinese characters mixed with mythical animals such as dragons and phoenixes.(Link)
Britain Mafia Tattoos
ACAB is an acronym often integrated into prison tattoos in the United Kingdom. It is most commonly rendered with one letter between the knuckle and first joint of each finger, sometimes as symbolic small dots with or without the accompanying letters. Also commonly presumed to be associated with the UK prison system (often incorrectly) are words on the knuckles, homemade tattoos (cotton, needle and indian ink) and similar. Many prison / jail related tattoo designs are now adopted by the youth culture as a means of identifying themselves as tough, mean, or to imply their willingness to go to jail for their crew or gang. ACAB can stand for All Coppers Are Bastards, or Always Carry A Bible, but most likely All Coppers Are Bastards depending on who is asking and whether the bearer is trying to make a good impression.