Youthful Gang Secrets Exposed
Young Hoodlums Smoke 'Reefers,' Tattoo Girls, and Plot Robberies
Long baffled concerning the inner workings of juvenile gangs, authorities of the Superior Court have just obtained a detailed exposition which divulges narcotics addiction, carrying of concealed weapons and robbery of pedestrians.
Gang members speak a strange argot unintelligible to the uninitiated, perform sadistic mutilations upon unwilling neophytes, and smoke marihuana costing $5 per "reefer," according to the sworn statements in the hands of juvenile authorities.
Why the juveniles were organized into gangs which gather nightly on the streets to fight, to steal and to rob remains a question without a clear-cut answer. One theory is that the boss of several of these juvenile gangs organized them for the experience of handling mob groups under the influence of subversive elements.
Another, more commonly entertained, is that the gangs are the result of mollycoddling of racial groups and of war-depleted police forces.
Here are the highlights:
Girl members are recruited for neighborhood gangs, whether they are willing or not, under threats of beatings and other violence.
Each girl must tattoo herself with the secret cabalistic symbol of the gang in which she finds herself. One East Whittier gang called "The Spiders" used a spidery design on the left hand. The "Cherries" used a red dot. Those unwilling to so mutilate themselves have the designs "carved on them."
The fantastically high pompadour of the girls serves another purpose than that of the gang trademark. It is used to conceal both a knife and a finger-nail file.
The gangsters themselves carry knives attached to the grotesquely heavy chains leading from belt to trousers pocket; sometimes the knife is carried taped to the thigh.
Marihuana Called 'Yiska'
"Yiska" is the gang name for marihuana, which is said to come from El Paso, Tex. The gangsters pay $5 per cigarette, which they take into motion-picture theaters and smoke during performances, drinking beer or wine along with it.
Each gang has its own "club," where the members gather for dancing, drinking, orgies, and to plan means of obtaining money for "yiska" and liquor.
These plans include stealing automobiles or tires, robbery of the person, burglary and pilfering from stores.
Parents of new members of gangs who attempt to prevent their sons or daughters from joining sometimes find the tires on their vehicles slashed into uselessness.
Here are excerpts from the confession:
Question—What do you call the leader of your gang in Pachuco?
Q.—That means the leader of a local gang. What is the leader of them all, the boss?
A.—The big boss?
A.—He don't come around to see you. He is just in the (gang) clubs. You have heard about the clubs they have in Los Angeles. One is the Pachuca Club. I don't know the leader's name but he has been . . . in jail and has been shot in the legs and everything . . . He is about 22 . . . He asks you if you are in a gang and if not he puts you in one where you live.
Q.—What if you don't go?
A.—Then they will do you something; slap you down or something . . . They beat you down.
Q.—We found this list of words in your room. Will you pronounce them and give their meanings?
A.—Here is "Essa," that means "her." Hese means boy, so does weso. Simon means yes, nel is no. Galcos is sure. Wesa is a girl; druca an old lady; ruco an old man; fracos means cigarettes; mona means all; pacoima means a scar; minario, you swear to the truth; noseai-vice means don't get lonesome; micanarada means you are my friend. Carnada means sister; carnal means brother; viole means dance; galache means American girl; arola means are you asleep? Vacorre means are you going to run away?
Club Words Defined
Onde oesto means you are drunk. Aponjo means a cop got you. Laciendo means flirting. Tritianto means riding around. Volte means jail. Humbar means steal. Hondo means money. Hino means boy friend. Forgela means fight with her. Bera means a dog—she is like a dog.
Q.—Do you have signs in your gang?
A.—Yes. Every night at 9 o'clock when one girl of the gang gives a whistle it means to come to that corner; they want to do something.
Q.—When you initiate a girl or a boy in the gang, what do you do besides give them the whistle and the sign?
A.—Tell them to put on the sign of a cross. You have to, or they will kick you out of the gang, and if they are short of girls, they will bring you back and make you do it. They will carve it on you . . . They hold your hands, and do it anyway.
Q.—What are your rules?
A.—Well, you have to drape short, you have to wear a high pompadour and to have a knife and finger file, and to have high knock and high caraches . . .
Q.—What do they fight about?
A.—When they need money they watch who has money and then go and get it . . . That is the way the boys get their money.
Q.—Tell me about when you smoked marihuana.
A.—I was inside the show. They offered me cigarettes, and I started smoking it, and I felt dizzy and I threw up and everything, and the manager asked if I was sick.
Gang members are taught to avoid and to hate servicemen. Some carry rubber hoses containing stones or metal with which to knock out servicemen in the event of friction. Girl members of the gangs are forbidden to have even the slightest contact with members of the armed forces, although they are required to obey and yield to male members of their gang in all things.
The girls are instructed upon hearing certain signals to go to designated spots to act as lookouts to permit purse snatchers or robber members to commit their crimes without danger of being caught in the act.
Gang members who fall into the hands of juvenile authorities have always before been afraid to disclose the gang organization and methods of operation, but from the lips of boys and girls who were forced into the gangsters' ranks and then were caught by police have come bits of the story.