Trending Topics

Gang Codes: Similar Symbol System

When trying to decipher a gang code, don’t compare apples and oranges

When trying to decipher a gang code, don’t compare apples and oranges. Look at the two paragraphs in (Illustration #1) and search for symbol groups with similar symbols.


The symbol groups that I picked out are shown in (Illustration #2).


See how the symbols repeat in (Illustration #3):


Now the challenge is to find the words that match these patterns and verify the letters that seem to work. Looking at the first example in (Illustration #3) what four-letter word begins and ends with the same letter? Words such as “gang”, “bomb”, “that”, “dead” and “kick” would match this pattern. Take a few moments and add some more words that you come up with…

The solution to the challenge is shown in (Illustration #4)


Now we can use our “double-check” word (Illustration #5) which we know uses some symbols we just identified as “O”, “A” and “T” as shown in (Illustration #3). Note that the unidentified symbols repeat within this word. What word has the letters “O”, “A” and “T” with two sets of repeating letters?


The word is “LOYALTY”. We have now added the letters “L” and “Y”. By using these letters to decipher more of the document, we can add additional letters and come up with the symbol template shown in (Illustration #6).


The first paragraph is translated and transcribed in (Illustration #7).


The second paragraph is translated and transcribed in (Illustration #8).


These two paragraphs turned out to be the “Pledge” and “Oath” of the Blood gang set, “Sex, Money, Murder (SMM)”. By comparing apples with apples and oranges with oranges, we have been able to confirm symbol identification and decipher words.

Gary Klivans is a gang consultant and lecturer specializing in gang codes. He retired with the rank of Captain from the Westchester County (NY) Department of Correction. Captain Klivans was employed for nearly 10 years as a District Attorney Investigator (Police Officer) serving in the New York State counties of Westchester and Putnam. He investigated crimes defined by the Penal and Criminal Procedure Law including white collar crime, organized crime and political corruption. He also performed surveillance and crime scene photography and conducted surreptitious entries.