Mexican Prison Tattoos

Ever wondered why Mexican prisoners have so many tattoos? Want to know why & how these Mexican prison tattoos are done? Our guide gives you the interesting facts & information you want to know.

Whether you’ve spent time inside yourself or have only seen it on TV, the undeniable fact is that prison inmates in general, whether they are Mexican or not, tend to have a lot of tattoos. While in some cases, these tattoos may just be a means of artistic expression and give inmates something to do in times of boredom, very often there is a lot more meaning that goes into a prison tattoo than you would assume. It’s no secret that the US prison population structure is largely composed of gangs that are formed for the purposes of protection from enemies as well as for making money through illegal drug activities, gambling, extortion and smuggling. Tattoos, or ink as they are often referred to by prison inmates, are first and foremost a means of identification that allows them to be recognized by fellow gang members as well as inmates from other gangs who might otherwise prey on the inmate if they weren’t protected by a gang.

Mexican Prison Tattoo Design

Traditionally, due to lack of equipment, prison tattoos have been very rudimentary in design relying simply on ink and a needle. Apart from being painful and laborious the end result of such tattoos are quite poor and basic. In recent years however, the ingenuity of inmates has enabled them to create homemade tattoo machines that work much faster and better than the old method. However, what is still the same is that the predominant color in such tattoos is blue. This is simply because of lack of availability of other colors in prison. If you see what looks like a Mexican prison tattoo with several colors on it, chances are the person has it touched up when they got out, or in fact the person got the tattoo done outside of prison.

Mexican Prison Tattoo Themes

In a way, Mexican prison tattoos tell the story of the inmates life, and with a little experience you can learn to read the persons life from their tattoos. Firstly, the name of a loved one very often appears in Mexican prison tattoos, although the inspiration behind such tattoos is rather more morbid than simple love. These names can be used as a means of identification of the body post mortem. Secondly, the presence of a weapon on the tattoo such as a gun indicated that the prisoner ordinarily carries a gun on the outside or that he has used it in the past. Landmarks such as walls, gates, or prison towers indicate that the prisoner has served time before in another prison.

Mexican Prison Gang Tattoos

The Mexican prison population in the US is far from united; in fact several of the biggest Mexican prison gangs are arch rivals and will unhesitatingly kill each other without a second thought. The Mexican Mafia, or La Eme, is the biggest and oldest Mexican prison gang in the US with a presence in states across the length and breadth of the US. Their arch rivals are the smaller but equally vicious Nuestra Famailia of NF. However, one thing that all Mexican prison gangs do seem to have in common is their preference for the use of abbreviations and numerology in creating their identifier tattoos. A typical Mexican mafia tattoo will simply consist of the letter “M” perhaps with the letter 13 in Arabic numerals of XIII in Roman numerals. In either case they are supposed to represent the 13th letter of the alphabet which is M. Similarly members of the Northern family will opt for tattoos featuring “N” in combination with the number 14, to represent the 14th letter of the alphabet.

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