Gangs, for the most part, get a pretty tough time from law abiding citizens such as you and I (assuming you don’t have something to tell me). Most of us regular folk tend to imagine the typical gang as a group of balding, middle-aged men with beer bellies, going from bar to bar fighting and looting with no goal beyond ruining the night for everybody else.
While gangs certainly aren’t deserving of any admiration, it should be pointed out that most are not as unorganized and directionless as society at large seem to think. In fact, the vast majority of gangs have extensive rules and sophisticated ranking systems in order to ensure the day-to-day running of the group goes smoothly.
A lot of the world’s older gangs have set rituals and traditions by which they honor fallen members and recognize their gang forefathers, which adds something of a religious dimension to the whole thing. Of course, these rituals and traditions are a little more violent than your average church meeting (although I’m sure certain gangs have indulged in the eating of flesh and the drinking of blood). In this article, we’re going to be looking at some of the underworld’s most ruthless gang rituals and hoping we never have to partake in them.
Let’s get started.
15 Knights Templar Cartel: Heart Eating
The Knights Templar Cartel is one of the newer gangs on this list and, indeed, in the world. The group was founded in 2011 and is composed primarily of guys who were members of La Familia Michoacana, a Mexican drug cartel which disbanded earlier that same year.
Despite being steeped in drug trafficking and extortion, the Knights Templar Cartel claims to be concerned primarily with protecting the public from more brutal gangs. However, the cartel doesn’t seem to be all that dedicated to saving its members from unpleasant experiences. If reports from former members and gang insiders are to be believed, those who wish to join the Knights Templar Cartel must remove prove their determination by eating a child’s heart, generally obtained from organ traffickers.
14 Ku Klux Klan: Lynching
Despite not partaking in quite as many illegal activities as most other modern gangs, the Ku Klux Klan - more commonly known as the KKK - is arguably the most hated gang in the world today. This is owing to the Klan’s blatant racism and support of strict apartheid. Historically, the gang’s ceremonial burning of the cross has been accompanied by the ritualistic murder of African-American males, though current KKK leaders claim such barbaric behavior is no longer practiced.
There is evidence to suggest, however, that ritualistic hanging is alive and well in more rural regions of the United States. According to those in the know - law enforcement and former Klan members - some of the more ruthless representatives of the Ku Klux Klan ensure the tradition of murdering black men via hanging is upheld by picking up homeless and drug-addicted African-Americans from the street for lynching, knowing they likely don’t have contact with family or friends, meaning their sudden absence probably won’t be noticed by anybody.
13 The Hell’s Angels: Baptized With Bucket Of Human Waste
The Hell’s Angels are arguably the most infamous gang of all time, and that’s saying something. The group is primarily comprised of fat, tattooed male bikers who use their fanatical love of motorbikes as a front for serious criminal activity.
Hunter S. Thompson, acclaimed writer, and documenter of lowlifes spent a period of time riding with The Hell’s Angels when gathering information for his nonfiction novel Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. It was during this time that Thompson witnessed the gang’s stomach-turning initiation ritual. According to Thompson, a new member of The Hell’s Angels is welcomed into the group by having a literal bucket load of urine and feces (collected from more senior members of the gang) dumped upon them.
12 Yakuza: Yubitsume
The Yakuza is a little more difficult to define than most other active gangs owing to the sheer size of the organization. However, the Yakuza is perhaps best compared to traditional mafias around the world, though its history is so bloody that it would make even the most ruthless mafia don squirm.
Members of the Yakuza are expected to abide by a strict set of rules in order to ensure the continued success of the organization and minimize the attention received from law enforcement. Gang elders rely on a series of blood-curdling rituals in order to punish members who have been found guilty of some step out of line within the organization. Perhaps the most brutal and infamous of these rituals is Yubitsume, which involves the guilty party amputating their left little finger in order to prove their remorse for their actions.
11 Taiwanese Gangs: Bombing Master Handan
Despite being one of the most infamous gang ceremonies in the world, Bombing Master Handan is not connected to any specific criminal organization. Instead, it is a ritual that has been relied upon by a series of Taiwanese crime syndicates since the early 1970s and is generally used to determine a new gang leader.
As difficult as it is to believe, the typical Bombing Master Handan ritual sees a number of aspiring gang leaders volunteer to have fireworks thrown at their semi-nude bodies. Whomever among them can withstand the onslaught of fireworks for the longest amount of time is declared the winner. Having proven themselves capable of great strength in the face of very real danger, the victorious gang member is placed at the head of the gang until they are no longer able to fulfill their duties.
10 The Roto Gang: Observing A Butchering
For the most part, The Roto Gang has been able to keep itself out of the headlines for the majority of its existence. The South African group operates primarily out of the city of Randburg and is mainly concerned with robbery and extortion, making life hell for the city’s wealthiest residents.
Despite its best efforts to fly under the wire, The Roto Gang did receive press attention a decade or so ago, when members were brought to court on charges relating to robbery and the dismemberment of a corpse. According to a woman who had made an ill-fated attempt to join The Roto Gang, high-ranking members of the group forced her to watch as they murdered a fellow gang member before proceeding to disembowel and sever the genitals of the corpse. According to the woman, the perpetrators explained that watching them butcher a body in this manner was a non-negotiable part of The Roto Gang’s initiation ceremony.
9 United Blood Nation: Buck Fifty
The United Blood Nation was founded on Riker's island, New York City in 1993 and today boasts more than 7000 members in total, all of whom work together to ensure the continued success of the gang’s drug distribution, which makes up for the majority of the group’s income.
In order to be accepted into the United Blood Nation - or the East Coast Bloods, as the gang is also known - the majority of those 7000 members had to successfully carry out the gang’s “Buck Fifty” ritual. The ritual, which is well-known among gang enthusiasts, requires the aspiring United Blood Nation member to carry out a knife attack on a rival gang member, slashing their face so badly that the victim requires at least 150 stitches, hence the “buck fifty” reference.
8 The Latin Kings: Assault
The Latin Kings are both the oldest and largest Hispanic street gang in the world and trace its roots all the way back to a man they refer to as “Papa Santos”, who formed the gang on the streets of 1950s Chicago. The gang is notorious for its violence towards law enforcement and the general public, but members have also been known to be just as violent towards each other.
For The Latin Kings, member-on-member violence is used not only to solve problems and disputes within the group but also to test the loyalty of potential new recruits. The initiation process for a new member is a bloody affair and will see the aspiring Latin King savagely beaten by his soon-to-be superiors before those same superiors attack and rape his girlfriend.
7 MS-13: Teenage Sacrifice
How do you even begin to describe MS-13? How can you possibly convey the sheer terror associated with the group without going into a 5000-word essay? I suppose a good way to start is to point out that MS-13 is the only street gang that the US government has listed as a “transnational criminal organization”. Although the gang started out life in the 1980s with little aim beyond protecting Salvadoran immigrants from Mexican aggressors as they journeyed to the United States, it eventually turned into the Satanic pseudo-cult we know and fear today.
Among the more disturbing rituals of MS-13 is the gang’s rumored sacrificing of teenagers, specifically young women, which is done in an apparent attempt to appease the Dark Lord. As recently as March 2017, two members of MS-13 were charged with the murder of a Huston teenager, which they allegedly committed before a makeshift Satanic shrine in their shared apartment.
6 The Aryan Brotherhood: Spectacular Murder
The word “Nazi” gets thrown around a lot these days, but it is no exaggeration to say that the members of the notorious prison gang The Aryan Brotherhood are full on Nazis (and fiercely proud of it).
If the Federal Bureau of Investigation is to be believed, members of The Aryan Brotherhood account for less than 0.1% of the prison population of the United States of America. However, they are thought to be responsible for a staggering 25% of federal prison murders. This can be explained by the gang's absolutely mental initiation policy, which, according to a former member, states that you must “kill someone in spectacular fashion”. That particular ex-member's initiation required him to stab another inmate 37 times while guards and other prisoners looked on.
5 MS-13: Jump-In
If you hitch your wagon to MS-13, you can expect to be on the receiving end of a number of attacks throughout your association with the gang. These attacks may come at the hands of rival gangs, law enforcement, or even fellow MS-13 gang members who have taken issue with your behavior.
I suppose it makes sense, then, that MS-13 elders welcome new members to the group with a multi person beat down. The ceremonial beating, generally described by MS-13 members as being “jumped in” requires the new recruit to withstand a vicious 13-second beatdown at the hands of some of the gang’s most notorious members. The gang members who are not involved in the attack itself are tasked with keeping time and will generally be agonizingly slow when counting to 13.
4 Chinese Triads: Strawberry Smoothie
While our American gangs are undeniably ruthless, few can hold a candle to even the tamest Asian crime organization. Gangs operating out of Japan and China are known for their brutality towards the public and each other, and the Chinese branch of the infamous Triads gang is no exception.
Unlike a lot of gangs in “business” today, the Chinese Triads do not initiate new recruits with a welcoming beating. However, many incoming Chinese Triads likely wish that were the case when they learn about the gang’s long-standing initiation ritual. When being indoctrinated into the Chinese Triads, members are forced to prove their loyalty to their new family by drinking the blood of several of their soon-to-be fellow members, which has usually been mixed together to create a sort of perverse strawberry smoothie prior to consumption.
3 Mac Baller Brims: Assassination Attempt
Over the years, the Bronx-based Mac Baller Brims has grown from a relatively unknown street gang to one of the most feared and fearsome factions in New York City and beyond. Their power and reckless regard for human life are so great that the gang has been described “the new mafia” by New York City law enforcement.
The Mac Baller Brims have two initiation rituals, which gang seniors choose from on a case-by-case basis. The more innocent (but still extremely disturbing of the two) requires the incoming gangster to withstand a savage beating from a group of established gang members. In more extreme cases, the potential Mac Baller Brim must carry out an assassination in order to become a member of the gang. This particular ritual made headlines in 2013 when a 14-year-old wanna-be Mac Baller Brim was tasked with killing a rival to prove his worth. He missed his target and was subsequently shot dead by police.
2 MS-13: Face Tattoos
MS-13 puts a great deal more emphasis on rituals and ceremonies than most other gangs. Gang seniors insist on traditions being upheld in order to honor those who paved the way for them and their law-breaking ways.
Members of MS-13 have long been encouraged to undergo extensive face tattooing in order to symbolize their dedication to the group. These tattoos go far beyond a teardrop beneath the eye, with many of the gang’s most loyal members having the letters “MS” tattooed across the entirety of their face. Recently, forward-thinking members of the gang have pushed for a move away from face tattoos in order to make it more difficult for law enforcement and rival gangs to identify MS-13 members, but it nonetheless remains a prevalent ritual and is almost a rite of passage for younger MS-13 recruits.
1 The Latin Kings: Murder Of Gangster Disciple
If the rape of your girlfriend by gang elders didn’t turn you off joining The Latin Kings which is also on our list, you will also be expected to carry out a hit on behalf of the gang in order to prove your dedication to its cause. Thankfully (if that’s the right word), the murder is not of any random citizen. Instead, the assassination must be carried out on a member of The Gangster Disciples, a gang with which The Latin Kings have long been at war.
The would-be Latin King begins the ritual by disguising themselves as a member of The Gangster Disciples and driving around, flashing GD hand signals at legitimate members of the group. The first Gangster Disciple to respond to the hand signals becomes the novice Latin King’s designated target and must be assassinated via a drive-by shooting.
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