Gang Lite?

A new kind of gang in Texas and Houston promises protection but no lifelong commitment

Randy Moreno is staring into an open prison cell where two inmates are waiting to kick in his head. He had promised himself he would never join another gang, and certainly not a prison gang. But now is not the time for second-guessing. This is his initiation.

"Get your shine on!" barks a prisoner serving as the lookout.

Shirtless, wearing white prison pants and matching Chuck Taylor low-tops, Randy, who accurately calls himself "a big guy for a Mexican," steps into the cage. There's not much room to maneuver in the tiny cell, what with a metal toilet, table and bunk bed taking up most of the space. The walls are slowly turning peach-­colored, as over time inmates have chipped away at the top coat of white paint, putting the flakes over their water heaters to sniff and get high.

No longer active, Randy Moreno says Houstone recruits members promising brotherhood without lifelong commitment.
Daniel Kramer
No longer active, Randy Moreno says Houstone recruits members promising brotherhood without lifelong commitment.

Suddenly, the first guy lunges forward, but Randy shoves his shoulder, sending him into the metal table in the same instant that the second inmate swings a fist at Randy's head. Somehow, he misses, just as the first guy moves across the room and tackles Randy, hammering his head against the wall. Quickly, Randy bounces to his feet, and the three men continue to swing at each other, as many blows missing as landing.

In all, the "cora-check" lasts less than a minute. It's just a test, a "heart-check" to see if Randy will fight back, proof in gang-world that he'll stand strong and be there to back up his fellow "homitos." Randy passes. It's official. He's been "jumped-in," and now belongs to Tango Blast, the largest prison gang in Texas.

"When I was finished doing it," says Randy, "I barely had a mark or scratch on me."

This is not posturing on Randy's part. His initiation was relatively easy, just cheap, street-punk theatrics compared to the laborious crime-riddled rituals older, more established prison gangs require of their recruits. And that's the point.

Ostensibly, Tango Blast is not your grandfather's or even your father's prison gang of old, with familiar names like the Texas Syndicate and Mexican Mafia, established organizations based on commitment, structure and a rigid do-or-die set of rules. No, this is a new breed putting a fresh twist on an old idea.

It is permeating the social fabric like no such group ever has before. Members proudly advertise their affiliation all over MySpace and YouTube, and people who have never even been to prison wear the gang's tattoos and symbols.

It's disorganized, fast and loose, and with none of the lifelong "blood-in, blood-out" commitment demanded by other gangs. At least that's what members told Randy in the beginning.

"It's a headless organization" says Randy, "like an anthill that busted open but with no queen. Everyone is running around crazy doing their own thing and there's a freedom that none of the other gangs allow. And that's why people join. It's just homeboys looking after homeboys, protecting each other, and once you leave prison, it's not supposed to really exist, even though it does. In some ways, it's kind of like Gang-Lite."

In some ways, maybe, but in others, members are every bit living the gangster life.

Technically, Tango Blast is not a prison gang.

"The thing is," says Sigifredo Sanchez, head of the Security Threat Group Office that monitors prison gangs and cliques for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, "they don't fall under any of our criteria for a prison gang, so we can't establish them as that. A Security Threat Group, like the Texas Syndicate or Mexican Mafia, is far more organized and has laws and regulations, so they fall under the state's definition of a prison gang. But right now, the Tangos are just an up-and-coming group."

This technicality is allowing Tango Blast members to flourish. For security reasons, known members of other gangs are placed in segregation and kept separate from the general population. But because prison authorities cannot segregate members of Tango Blast simply for belonging, they live with everyone else and, according to members, have the run of things, extorting non-gang members for protection and taking control of the illegal drug and cigarette trade.

"When I was inside," says "Pete," a member of Tango Blast who now lives in Port Arthur and did not want his real name used, "I was selling stuff and getting things smuggled in, but this was all on my own accord and I kept whatever I earned. I didn't have to kick it back into the group. And that's why we're not really a gang. Nothing is organized. Each unit has its own set of rules and personality, but the thing that makes us closest to a gang is the fact we fight other gangs. But it doesn't matter which prison you go to, we outnumber everybody, and I think everyone is getting alarmed."

Houston police, however, do classify Tango Blast as a gang. For the past two years, officers have been using a computer program called GangTracker, into which they download information about gang members they encounter on the streets, such as the person's name, gang affiliation, nickname and tattoos. Pictures of the member and his tattoos are also entered — a valuable resource for police investigating crimes.

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36 comments
Mrpecas713
Mrpecas713

ITS ALL GOOD IF DIS CHAFA ASS PUTOS WANNA DISRESPECT N TALK DOWN ON DA BLAST CUZ WE KNOW DAT IN REALITY IT WONT EVER HAPPEN BUT YEAH DIS MR.PECAS S.W.C FROM BELLAIRE ST. EN LA LIBRE N TANGO BLASTIN IN DA PEN SO IF U DONT KNOW WHAT DA BLAST IS A BOUT DAN KEEP IT OUR UR MOUTH. REAL HOMEBOYS KNOW WHAT WE ABOUT N DA CHAFAS ARE DA ONES TO GIVE UP DA GAME. MUCH LOVE N RESPECT.

Sanctify
Sanctify

Unbelievable all the stupid "homies" on here posting about there stupid gangs. If you ARE "BLASTIN" you are a PUNK! Wake up regular people! These Animals need to be stopped at all costs, before they end up tearing our country apart,--which is their mission!

They want anarchy so they can rule with intimidation, fear and exploit everything around them! They are eating our communities from the inside. If you don't believe it, just see how many of these posts are from gang members! ANd they are in their own language of abbreviations and slang and Spanglish and made up terms that only they understand. I live in a gang dominated part of the city and it SUCKS big time! I feel unsafe all the time and have to see and hear violent outbursts and crime and prostitutes and beatings all the time and I am sick of 'em.

And for you liberals out there who feel sorry for them because of their upbringing... Well, I was brought up here too and I am nothing like that--they are just selfish lazy greedy members of the new "Bling" generation who want an easy buck and have no values, just like our CEO's, I know... But these guys will take your life! GANGS are TERRORISTS and should be rounded up and jailed and all their guns and property gained from crimes and their drugs should be seized and their Ho's (slaves) should be freed and rehabilitated.!!!

MarineFromWaller
MarineFromWaller

So WHERE's my comment you liberal bastards?

FUCK YOU Houston Press!

OldMarineCorpsVet
OldMarineCorpsVet

To any gang bangers out there, Blast or not. You are all losers. You should all align with each other and call yourselves - The Biggest Losers. You are all basically cowards. You have to depend on others all the time. You don't know how to really live life and how to reap the many rewards of it. You don't really have any concept of a normal life. You are all throwing away your miserable lives and for what? Cuz somebody messed with your homie? Cuz somebody dissed you? Cuz you can't find in your pathetic selves to use your God-given intelligence and gifts to HONESTLY work for a living - so you turn to stealing, dealing drugs and other criminal enterprises? You all are so sad. You mutilate your bodies with those ugly tattoos. They are Pagan by the way and Scriptures (The Bible) tells us that this displeases God. Most of you are Catholic are you not? Did you ever really pic up a Bible and actually read it? You are not really Catholics. You are not really humans either. You are are pathetic jokes. Sad men living a sad life and all too often a very short one. It doesn't have to be that way. The choices that you make in this world are yours. Why choose a dead-end path? Why throw everything that you have and any potential to have - away? What's up with that? WHY? Tattoos don't make you better looking and more manly. They make you into carnival sideshow freaks. Get a life before you lose yours!

juan
juan

yo soy de san anto tejas puro orejon chingon, no disrespect, orejons DON;T blast. puro san anto tango no fama,no ramfla.puro homeboys, por vida it's a diffrent way of doing time. so it's up to you????

SENDOG
SENDOG

YO SOY DE SAN ANTO TEJAS IWAS LOCKED UP WHEN THERE WASN'T NO TANGO IN THE JAILS YOU EITHER BACK THE RAZA UP OR JOIN THE MM. I NEVER DID JUST BACK UP THE RAZA. LATER ON I DECIDED TO TATTOO OREJON ON MY NECK AND RAN AND BACK UP MY HOMETOWN BOYS SAN ANTO 210.BUT IT'S NOT A GANG.BUT IT IS GETTIN BIG. THERES MORE OF US IN THE JAILS NOW.AND IN THE FREEWORLD.

joey robles
joey robles

adding to my last comment,this is jojo,i finished my time out on rockin roberson unit in abilene,i was on luther, we smashed them fools out of el paso. keep ur fukkin head up homiez,the real tango blast knows the game, fuck all the haters,fakes and punks.16-20-02. if you aint blastin, you aint lastin.if ur free homie,stay out and rep this city from out here,ive been out since 2005.do yall thang but stay out homie.

joey robles
joey robles

i did ten years in the texas prison system,houstone tango blast had rules to go by,people say we was a"headless gang" is a bunch of talk,the younger guys getting into the blast that didnt have a "real convict" to hold the chair above them is the ones who think that the answer to every problem was to swing fists.my only friends that i have now out here in the free is a few guys that i know will have my back because they was in there standing next to me in riots.just because we went to prison and we are in the houstone tango blast doesnt make us bad people.my friends that i blasted with in there ..we all have jobs out here in the free, we have kids and wives.and another thing, for those youngsters that get the tattoo of the astros star and "houstone" and "713" "281" and anything dealing with the blast,if you aint never been to prison,you aint got no reason to be even thinking bout putting that stuff on ur body,the county jail aint prison,get put down in the county and the real houstone homiez are laughing at yall!!! you will get checked if a homie sees you blastin that star and never been to prison.you cant blast from the county jail.whenever yall get cora checked yall gonna get double the beating for having the star on yall.lol,what if yall dont make it in the blast? then yall gonna get a hook tattoo and look like a fool too.lol much love to the real blast,the homiez that are staying out here in the free supporting the family.

Amanda
Amanda

To all those haters who are commenting on this page I have known Randy aka Joker for a long ass time. He is not one to lie or make up any type of bullshit. To this day he has been a true loco who has never backed down from anything that wasn't worth backing down from. He's the type of vato that you don't fuck with . I just as O.G. Puppet come from that S.W. side Alief S.W.C. X3. Back in those days the gang meant familia. Now at days the gangs are not the same. They lost there pride in themselves and have turned into groups of rabid dogs. So for all your bullshit comments yall can just go fuck yalls selves!!! >La Guera

BIG HAPPY
BIG HAPPY

WHAT IT WUZZ HOMITOS THIS BIG HAPPY BLASTIN THAT BETO 1 HOUSTONE IT MAKES ME MAD WHEN SOME HOMITOS GET OUT AND THEY SAY I AINT BLASTIN ANYMORE, BITCH YOU AINT ACT LIKE THE BLAST WASNT ANYTHING WHEN YOU WERE LOCCED UP ALL BITCH HOMITOS WHO SAY I AINT BLASTIN ANYMORE SHOULD HAVE THE GREEN LIGHT GET AT ME HOMITO PURO TANGO BLAST

nana
nana

i am a pround houstone members girlfriend he loves me and tells me nothing about it cuz i guess he cant or sum i dont kno.... anyways wtf wit all these people clamin they kno so much bout houstone. to those who are actually banin got much love for ya stay tru to those who helped you thu

nana
nana

my boyfriend is a member of houstone gang he jux got out of prision and it is not unorginized. basically if you bangin houstone and a houstone member finds out you dead. plain and simple. its like that with mostly all gangs. it dont take a genius or a whole bunch of detectives to figure out.

casper
casper

This fool is a hoe, sounds like to me he was crossed out, in prison and came out here to lay it all out for the popo's. Real homitos dont say shit we know who we are, and dont have to prove a damm thang .... when u disrespect houstone, you'll know who the real ones are.... and this year is the year we get those fake ass fools that are faking it to make it.... this is casper, off of telford... STR-8 BLASTIN CITY ALLIANCE PUTO'S

chief
chief

I was in TDC at Pack II in '87 when this got started. All of us from Houston got tired of all the BS from the organized gangs and decided to stick together. There was more of us even then than any other group. The Astros came into it because we took over the TV to watch the Astro games. Used to be about 1/3 white and 2/3 hispanic. No extorting shit from weaklings, no blood in blood out, or any other gang bullshit. Nothing wrong with this group, just a bunch of guys from Houston doing thier time in TDC.

julio
julio

the article has alot of fluff. same thing over and over again. for seven pages. very poorly written. or lack of info. maybe the topic itself has no meat. either way. should be shorter and more concentrated.

serdna
serdna

Tango Blast is made up of a bunch of pussies who ain't about shit. You all ain't got the balls to join a REAL gang.

pepe
pepe

say homito ure news letra was de a queyas i just got out a week ago i'm an atx tango blaster shit changing homito the blast is changing seems like they forgot were about staying out we got these young vatos wanting to blast and they only 15 yungstas claiming this and they dont know what its about mucho respeto form the ATX 16 20 2 capirucha's finest

FILO
FILO

Hey Homito soy de D*TOWN checking out the article it's got crazy same shit up here middle school kids hit up and shit For all the tru homitos stay real don't forget the hoe squad and stay out remember our true FAMILIES our out here! Our homitos are inside waiting to come home much respect to all the HOMITOS that are in the cages and also to those at home

louisito medina jr
louisito medina jr

d info on houstone is tru.just these new generations of homitos fuk up d meaning of houstone. i am a proud HOUSTONE that came 4rm barrio de alief a tru SWC 13 an proud to b a houstone. been through alot in d pinta an learn from it.yes most of d gangs we used 2 b just got smart an in d pinta we all r one an equal an c y r we killin ourselves out in d world. when we should b helpin eachother.an not goin back to prison.well 2 all d haterz an wanna b's - f-yall cause houstone is a good thing an yea @ times it get rough but nothing is handle down 4 free or peacefully.lots of homitos fought an died to get where we r @ now. T.B always! know d meanin an live by it.much luv an respect to all an to all d HOMITOS that r doin well an remember where we was @ an not go back! It feels good to b out ! determine 2 succeed ! By- O.G Puppet

HTB 281
HTB 281

HOUSTONE TO THA BONE.......IF YOU AINT BLASTIN YOU AINT LASTIN

no
no

this mf i s aliar who doesnt know any thing about houstone

Kingchedr1
Kingchedr1

Your fucking stupid All that shit your saying about ruling with intimidation the goverment is doing. Your a paranoid schizo and you should seek help:)

Sanctify
Sanctify

scary, I hope you all decide to stop this selfishness and destruction, and try to actually do something meaningful with your life instead. Gangs are terrorists and should be stopped at all costs.

Sanctify
Sanctify

Gangs never meant anything! Give me a break! I hope America gets a clue and permanently and violently gets rid of every last one of you I cannot stand living around your filthy crime and violence anymore! You are not heroes in any way shape of form. you are all cowards and not real men, 'cause real men take responsibility for making the world safe for women and children--not make it a terrifying place for everyone. You are just rabid defective animals that are destroying everything you touch.

Sanctify
Sanctify

Only cowards join gangs. I have NO respect for you or your "Homies". You are a joke. Police protect this city from your chaos and I support them. If I see your "Activities" I will take your picture and call the police. You are not Welcome here in Houston. There is NO "E" on the end of Houston. We don't want you here--go back to whatever run-down place you ruined on your way to try to ruin our fair city, 'cause you warren't gonna get away with it here, "Homie".

Sanctify
Sanctify

You have no love for anyone because you are in a Gang. Gangs by Nature are about hate and selfishness and greed and exploitation and tearing down communities and violence and child abuse, and demeaning women and terrorizing good people. You are not a good person and don't deserve to live in Houston and there is not such thing as "Houstone" it an ignorant and useless word that is a desperate to give meaning to your life that could have been better spent had you been real man and taken care of the people around you instead of being a selfish boy forever and making excuses and not manning up and instead being a coward who hides behind violence and lies and abuse and terror. You sir, are a wimp.

Sanctify
Sanctify

Only wimps turn to a life of crime and only wimps join gangs. "Blastin", "Houstone", "Real Homies"... ? WTF?!?! Don't you mean ignorant lazy fools who don't want to work and instead want to take without giving and use and abuse everything around them until life is a living hell? You mean stupid dumb boys who never grow up and run on drugs and testosterone and kill/rape/beat/steal all day? Go to Hell. Houston doesn't want you anymore!

Sanctify
Sanctify

"Houstone" is NOT a good thing and should be tracked and dealt with by the domestic terrorism agencies in our country. these fools are ruining our democracy and the safety of our streets. They are responsible for the majority of crime in our cities and are not contributing anything to our world! They need to GO!

"Houstone" What a joke! Gangsters thinking they are somehow "Good" somehow justifying all this degradation and loss, all this violence and fear, all the filth and porn and prostitution and drugs and poison and beatings and mamings and robberies and crime as something noble and something valiant... you are seriously deluded and need to wake up. YOU are the problem and if you REALLY WANT TO BE A MAN,.. get rid of GANGS and really protect your communities and help educate your children and keep the streets clean and fix stuff for old ladies and helpless people and do some good with your worthless self instead of complaining and whining that life isn't fair... and your such a victim.

Sanctify
Sanctify

Wow, brilliant, what if I say,... If you Blast, you are in the past! If you are in a Gang you don't mean a thang! If you are a thug you deserve a slug! If you are a pimp you're a wimp... get my drift? God, it takes more to be a man than stupid saying! It's like you're all stuck in elementary school and no one want to be a REAL MAN and make a difference in a good way, just in a selfish and destructive way that makes everyone around them miserable. What small minds you have and you lack real COURAGE!

Gangs get out of Houston! We are waking up and you are gonna all end up in jail , or worse, if you stay here--This is NOT your city! IT is the city of GOOD people not WEAK people who can't control themselves and use violence to settle their problems and kill/rape/steal/destroy for a living.

Sanctify
Sanctify

If you are in a gang you don't mean a thang! Gangs get out of Houston, we hate you and your kind and don't want you here ruining our town. You are the lowest of the low and you will never be any better as long as you think that this ridiculousness makes you someone or something. It is pathetic!

Ruby Herrera
Ruby Herrera

Maynee hop off you on some bullshit, the world aint bout rainbows and flowers its a bitch out there you dont know nun bout that life

 
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