Gang codes: Patterns on paper

Gang codes can be very ornate symbols that bear no resemblance to the English alphabet.  Gangs use these symbols to confuse the reader and hide a covert message.  But some gang members use the English alphabet and hide their message in other ways.  These can often be patterns on paper that can only be deciphered when you see how the pattern is arranged.

I received a seven-page document that was confiscated in a correctional facility.  Sample pages are shown in (Illustrations #1 - #3).

As I examined the document, I noticed a pattern.  (Illustration #4) is a close-up of the first paragraph of (Illustration #1).  Look at it carefully and pay particular attention to the letter arrangement.

(Illustration #5) indicates the pattern for the first line.

(Illustration #6) indicates the pattern for the second line.

The first fifteen (15) lines of (Illustration #1) are deciphered and shown in (Illustration #7).

“BAM” refers to “Bosses About Money” and where the writer states that if you want out that’s in a bag, he is referring to a body bag.

The solution to deciphering this pattern is to take the first letter of every three-letter group and every individual letter.  The individual letters are “A, E, I, O, U”.  The “#” indicates the end of a word.

When you first examined this document, it looks confusing and the message is hidden… until you see the “patterns on paper”.

About the author

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.

Klivans served in the US Army Reserve for 30 years. He was assigned to Military Intelligence and the Criminal Investigation Command (CID) (Federal Agent). He was called to Active Duty for Operation Desert Shield and was assigned to a team protecting the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF). Mr. Klivans retired with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer (CW4) holding the title of Special Agent in Charge (SAC).

He has written more than a dozen gang related articles which have been published in American Jails Magazine, Sheriff Magazine and Deputy & Court Officer Magazine, and is a regular contributor to CorrectionsOne, the site our PoliceOne brothers and sisters produce for COs. Klivans has been a Guest Lecturer for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Office of State and Local. He is also an Adjunct Instructor for St. Petersburg College, Florida, and as such lectures for the federally funded Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training (MCTFT) program.

He is the author of the book "Gang Secret Codes: Deciphered," Police and Fire Publishing, Santa Ana, CA.

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