United Blood Nation history, terminology, background

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the 163-page indictment, authorities detailed the history of the United Blood Nation as well as some terminology that is used in the gang.

In the early 1970s, a group of seven individual street gangs united and formed a larger gang called "The Bloods." This gang was formed in Los Angeles, California, but quickly spread to surrounding areas. Thereafter, they expanded across the United States in conjunction with the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s.

The Bloods are broken into individual units or "hoods," each identified or affiliated with a certain street, neighborhood, or area. These hoods utilize common tattoos, communication codes, language, graffiti markings, and are identified by wearing the color red. Additionally, Bloods maintain a long-term and often lethal rivalry with the Crips gang, whose signature color is blue.

On July 16, 1993, at the George Mochen Detention Center on the east side of Rikers Island Prison, the "United Blood Nation" (UBN), a single Bloods entity, was created. It was determined by Omar "Original Gangster Mack" Portee and his partner Leonard "Dead Eye" McKenzie, both inmates on Rikers Island, that the Bloods hoods should unite in order to protect themselves from "The Almighty Latin King Nation," the largest prison gang in the New York prison system at the time. The UBN was the East Coast offshoot of the California-based "Bloods" and its members are only loosely affiliated with West Coast Bloods. All of the Bloods gangs or "hoods" who unified under the UBN were allowed to keep their original names, such as "G-shine," "Nine Trey Gangsters," "Valentine Bloods," and "Sex, Money, Murder." These original hoods were formed based upon their affiliation with certain streets, neighborhoods, areas, or local gangs.

As these members were released from prison and migrated, the UBN spread across the streets of New York and eventually down the East Coast of the United States.

Once the UBN began to spread from the prisons to the streets, the members devised codes in order to avoid detection from law enforcement. For instance, the Valentine Bloods became known as the "Tony Starks." The Gangsta Killer Bloods became known by two names, the "G-Shine" and the "Julius B Sunny."

The UBN has since spread across the East Coast of the United States; however, the ultimate authority for gang decisions is still maintained in New York and the New York prison system, described by UBN members as "up top." The gang maintains a strict hierarchy or chain of command. Although called by different names, such as "the rims," the "stain structure," and/or "the empire structure," the rules are strictly enforced through the chain of command. The UBN gang leadership includes a national council ("the Council"). Council members are selected from the leaders, typically the "Godfathers," of the larger hoods such as the Nine Trey Gangsters.

The structure of the UBN is hierarchical in nature. Each member has a specific rank within the gang, and this rank comes with specific duties and responsibilities to the "Hood." The UBN uses a ranking system (otherwise called a "Line Up") often disguised with code names to label the leadership structure.

All sets of the UBN organization are governed by a common set of rules. The rules were originally written by the UBN founders, Omar Portee and Leonard McKenzie. There are 31 UBN rules known as "The 31." Examples of the rules are: Individual gang members are to operate and conduct themselves as defined by "The 31"; Procedures for infractions or disciplinary actions; "Snitching," or cooperating with law enforcement, is strictly prohibited.

The rules also set forth guidance for communications. The most common and accepted methods for communicating are "kites" (letters that are written from prison and are delivered to other prisoners, or smuggled in and out of pti son facilities), cellular telephones, contraband cellular telephones, text messaging, prison visitation, face to face meetings, and social media.

Inmates have access to telephones in prison, and it is also common for prisoners to have access to contraband cellular telephones smuggled into prison facilities which they use for gang communications.

UBN gang members use specific words or codes to communicate with each other in an attempt to avoid detection from law enforcement and rival gangs. Some commonly used words include:

  • "Damu," which means "blood" in Swahili
  • "Wood," or "Inglewood," to describe gang knowledge (rules, codes, and gang structure)
  • "East Side," to connote loyalty and affiliation to the UBN (the UBN was formed on the east side of Rikers Island)
  • "Soo Woo," which means "Bloods rule." A greeting of "soo woo" is returned with the greeting of "woo"
  • "Five" is a reference to a fellow UBN member
  • "Big homie" refers to a higher ranking member, while "big fool" generally refers to the senior ranking member present.
  • "Tuition" and "Donation" refer to gang dues

Code terms are also used to refer to specific actions carried out by UBN gang members or to communicate about intended or performed actions in a secure and covert manner. For example:

  • "Lick," "Rip," "Sunstroke" "Jug," or "Grinding" refer to robbery
  • "On the wall" is a suspension of gang membership
  • "DNA" refers to an internal gang investigation
  • "Green light" means that permission has been granted by a higher ranking UBN member to a lower ranking member to do an act
  • "Food" and "on the plate" are gang terms which mean that the individual gang member or a non-gang member is targeted for some type of physical attack
  • A "Pow Wow" and a "Nine" refer to a gang meeting. Meetings are the method by which members of the gang gather to discuss gang business, administer punishment, and discuss issues of common concern.

A "Pow Wow" is called by the highest ranking member of the local hood or his designee. There are rules which govern the activities to be performed during a "Pow Wow", which include:

  • Reciting oaths, collecting gang dues, communicating gang knowledge, discussing rule changes, and issuing punishment
  • "On freeze" means that a member is prevented from conducting gang business
  • "Behind the wall" refers to a member in prison
  • "Stain" or "Rims" refers to rank within the gang, and J. ''Whip" means hood or set

Each hood also has terms that are specific to that hood. For example, the Nine Trey Gangsters members use the terms "93," "Billy," "Billies," "Billy Bad Ass," "BBA," and "0 Trey," among others, as a reference to their hood.

Gang dues are collected from each member for the benefit of the UBN organization. A portion of the dues are saved and utilized locally, while another portion is sent up the chain to gang leadership. The monies may be used locally for loans to gang members, as gifts to high ranking members who are in jail as a form of respect, to buy cellular telephones for communication between members in and out of jail, and for other gang-related purposes.

In order to become a UBN member, one must be introduced by an existing gang member. A potential new member is "beat in" (physically beaten for 31 seconds by gang members) and provided with a copy of the UBN history, oaths, and the 31 rules which must be memorized. This process is referred to as being "brought home." All gang members are required to "put in work," meaning that they must carry out the orders and activities as directed by gang leadership.

While UBN gang members can often be identified by the wearing of red clothing, tattoos are also an important method of membership identification. Common UBN tattoos include:

  • The letters "M.O.B." which stands for "Member of Bloods"
  • A five-pointed star (the points of the star represent the five points of knowledge within the UBN: life, love, loyalty, obedience, and respect and/or love, truth, justice, freedom, and peace)
  • Three circular brands or burn marks upon the skin formed into a triangle, commonly known in the organization as "dog paws," which represent the UBN
  • Tattoos that symbolize a particular hood.
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