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Homies and HermanosGod and Gangs in Central America$

Robert Brenneman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199753840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753840.001.0001

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(p.267) Appendix C A Primer of Gang Vocabulary

(p.267) Appendix C A Primer of Gang Vocabulary

Source:
Homies and Hermanos
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

Term

Translation/origin

Meaning

jomi

Homie/homeboy

gang member

carnal

perhaps related to primo carnal or “first cousin”

blood brother or close friend in the gang; sometimes used interchangeably with jomi

clica

clique

local cell of a transnational gang composed of 15–75 members

maje

dude (can be masculine or feminine)

ranfla

the local cell or clica; sometimes refers to gang activity

ranflero

A local or regional leader of one or several gang cells; also called el mashín (machine)

letras

letters

referring to the Mara Salvatrucha, represented by the letters “MS”

números

numbers

referring to the Eighteenth Street gang, represented by the digits “1–8”

vivo

alive

“on the ball”; smart, driven, ready for anything

Crazy

crazy

name or title given to the most daring local gang member; usually this title is reserved for ranfleros and sometimes distinguished from others as in “Crazy Little” or “Crazy II”

clecha

from the Calo word for school or grade

Rules, code, or vision; sometimes associated with tattoos, as a kind of military badge of honor that must be earned

la nueva clecha

the new code

The new environment brought about with the breaking of the “Pacto Sur” or Southern peace treaty that had formerly held for all MS-13 and M-18 interaction in nondisputed public territory

placas

license plates

tattoos; sometimes used as a verb, as in “Me plaqueé.”

jaina

perwhaps related to gyne-

female gang member or sympathizer; sometimes used to refer to young women in general

paisa

from “paisano” or countryman

Youth who does not belong to a gang

peseta (Honduras)

(Spanish currency)

gang deserter or traitor; most serious when tattoos are crossed out

cuadros

squares

permission to leave the gang and settle down without repercussions

cohete

rocket/firecracker

pistol or gun

sortear

to gamble

to shake down or rob

chavalear

from chava or girl

to back down or back out “like a girl”

livar

live

to drink, have a good time and “live it up”

rifar

to gamble

to risk, gamble or hazard one’s safety for the gang

tirar barrio

to “throw” the neighborhood (symbol)

to make the sign of the gang using special hand signals; a sign of camaraderie when done among fellow members but a first-class offense when done “outside” the gang’s own territory or in disputed territory

chequeo

checking

time of checking out during which sympathizers are observed for their worthiness of membership

luz verde

green light

a “go-ahead” sometimes issued as a release from the gang; often issued as a death warrant, granting permission for a kill

luz rojo

red light

a “stop” sometimes meant to stop gang members from killing, but most often issued as a death warrant to “stop” a deserter or traitor

(p.268) (p.269) (p.270)