This show takes a look at the Mexican Mafia who are a prison based gang that controls other Hispanic street gangs while in prison, and are currently waging a race war with black gangs in prison.
The Mexican Mafia (Spanish: Mafia Mexicana [maˈfia mexiˈkana]), also known as La Eme (Spanish for “the M”), is a Mexican American highly-organized, criminal organization in the United States. Despite its name, the Mexican Mafia did not originate in Mexico and is entirely a U.S. criminal prison organization. Sureños, including MS-13 and Florencia 13, use the number 13 to show allegiance to the Mexican Mafia. M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Law enforcement officials report that La eMe is the most powerful gang within the California prison system. Government officials state that there are currently 155–300 official members of the Mexican Mafia with around 990 associates who assist La eMe in carrying out its illegal activities in the hopes of becoming full members.
The Mexican Mafia was formed in 1957 by 13 Hispanic street gang members from different Los Angeles neighborhoods that were all incarcerated at the Deuel Vocational Institution; a California Youth Authority facility which is now an adult state prison in Tracy, California. They formed in order to protect themselves from other prison gangs at the time. The founder of La eMe is Luis “Huero Buff” Flores who was an active member of the Hawaiian Gardens gang in Hawaiian Gardens, California. Gang warfare between Hispanic neighborhoods was the norm during the 1950s and 60s so the fact that Luis Flores was able to get established enemies to set aside their rivalries upon entry into the prison system was something that was not thought possible. This requirement exists to present day. Hispanic street gangs like White Fence, San Fer, Pacas, Avenues, Clanton 14, Varrio Nuevo Estrada, and Hoyo Maravilla were already into their second decade and firmly established as self-sustaining entities. Luis Flores initially recruited violent members to the gang in an attempt to create a highly-feared organization which could control the black market activities of the Deuel prison facilities. La eMe member Ramon “Mundo” Mendoza claims that in the beginning the overall goal was to terrorize the prison system and enjoy prison comforts while doing time.
As new members of La Eme filtered out back into the streets, Anacleta “Annie” Ramirez, a well-known member of the East Los Angeles community, took many of them under her wing and paired them up with neighborhood youngsters who lacked direction. Ramirez, a sharp, tough woman, taught the youngsters discipline, rules of street life, and, at first, petty crime. This later escalated to her role as a shot caller—as drugs became a major part of the trade—who would get rid of her enemies by ordering youth loyal to her on missions. After she had given the directive, many of her enemies were reportedly murdered on sight.