The Bloods are a primarily African-American street gang founded in Los Angeles, California. They are one of the largest street gangs worldwide, with an estimated 30,000-35,000 members. However, in recent decades, the Bloods have expanded outside of Los Angeles and have established a presence in other parts of the United States and beyond. This includes having members and sets affiliated with the Bloods in places like Texas, New York, and even Mexico.
History of the Bloods
The Bloods were formed in the early 1970s as an alliance between various African-American street gangs in Los Angeles who sought to protect themselves from the Crips, another prominent street gang in the area. The origins of the Bloods can be traced back to the Piru Street Boys and the Compton Pirus, named after Piru Street in Compton, California. As the Bloods expanded in numbers during the 1970s, subsets or “sets” were formed such as the Piru Bloods and Bounty Hunter Bloods among others.
By the late 1970s, Bloods sets had spread outside of Los Angeles to cities in California such as Oakland, San Diego and Sacramento. In the 1980s, Blood sets popped up in Texas, New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere as the Bloods brand spread across the country. Even overseas in places like Germany, Japan, and Mexico, local street gangs began adopting Bloods iconography and forging connections with LA Bloods.
Presence of Bloods in Mexico
Just like in the United States, Bloods gang culture was imported into Mexico through media, migration, and deportation of gang members. Lowrider culture, West Coast hip hop, and Chicano rap helped popularize Bloods fashion and symbolism among youth in northern Mexico in cities like Tijuana, Mexicali, and Juarez.
Deportations of Mexican immigrants with gang associations also led to the spread of LA gang culture in Mexico. Some deportees who were Bloods members in places like LA, formed their own sets once arriving in Mexico. Imprisoned Bloods members in California also recruited fellow Mexican inmates who later got deported.
One of the most well-known Bloods sets in Mexico is the Barrio Azteca. Emerging in the 1990s in Texas prisons, Barrio Azteca has a large presence on both sides of the border in cities like Juarez, El Paso, and Tijuana. They identify with Bloods culture and have close ties to LA gangs like the Westside 18th Street.
The Cafeteria Bloods are a gang that originated inside the Centro de Readaptación Social (CERESO) prison in Juarez in the 1990s. The “Cafeteria” name comes from the site where they first organized as a Bloods clika inside the prison.
With links to LA’s Fruit Town Piru Bloods, the Cafeteria Bloods sport Piru-style clothing and use Piru lingo but have adopted symbols associated with Mexican culture. They are bitter rivals with the Mexicles, a prison gang in Juarez that identifies with Crip culture.
East Side Bloods
Also originating in Mexican prisons, the East Side Bloods claim territory in eastern Tijuana. Their name derives from Hispanics in LA who aligned with Bloods sets based in eastern areas like Eastside Piru.
The East Side Bloods make use of both original Bloods symbolism crossed with Mexican cultural motifs. Their main rivals are the Sureños, a Mexican gang that aligns with Southern California’s Mexican Mafia.
Bloods Gang Identification in Mexico
Mexican Bloods gangs borrow heavily from the culture and traditions of LA Bloods but also integrate Mexican and Latin American imagery and symbols.
Like LA Bloods, Mexican Bloods use red clothing and accessories to identify themselves. However, they may mix in the Mexican flag colors of red, white, and green. The Mexican flag is a common symbol used by Bloods in Mexico.
Bloods hand signs like forming a “B” or spelling out words like “Blood” or “Piru” with fingers are used by Mexican Bloods. However, they may switch letters like “B” and “P” for Spanish words like “Barrio” when throwing signs.
Mexikan Bloods blend English Bloods lingo (“Cuz”, “Loc”, “SuWhoop”) with Spanish slang from Mexico (“Barrio”, “Clica”) when communicating. Spanish prefixes like “Varrio” are used in set names.
Common Bloods tattoos include words like “Piru”, “Blood”, “Bounty Hunter”, and “Van Ness Gangster Bloods” surrounding area codes, ZIP codes, or phone numbers. Mexican Bloods integrate images like the Mexican flag, Aztec/Mayan imagery, or the Santa Muerte.
Organization and Criminal Activity
Like most gangs, Bloods gangs in Mexico are loosely organized with leaders controlling smaller neighborhood cliques who claim sovereignty over turf. Conflicts arise over territory, cash flow from criminal rackets, and personal beefs.
Bloods cliques in Mexico are involved in typical gang activity like selling drugs, extortion, and offering protection. Major rackets include trafficking methamphetamine and marijuana across the US border. The Mexican Bloods also act as muscle for Mexican cartels.
To conclude, Bloods gang culture has spread from the streets of LA to prisons and neighborhoods in northern Mexico. Local street and prison gangs adopt Bloods identity by integrating LA imagery with Mexican cultural symbols. However, Mexican Bloods remain fairly small and lack the national structure and dominance of major Mexican criminal organizations.