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Gang Codes: You got it all backwards

Even when the code is a “edoC drawkcaB” it’s not “elbissopmi ot rehpiced”

Gang code documents sometimes use more than one way to hide their message. Often this “twist” can make it more of a challenge to decipher. Here is one of those challenges.


(Illustration #1) shows the entire questioned document. The only information I had about the writer was that he was a young offender and believed to be a member of the Latin Kings gang. Look at the document closely! Do you see a symbol that is part of a pattern?


Notice these “square” symbols? They are at the end of each line and are used to separate words as shown in (Illustration #2).

Next, identify single symbols (note they are between two “squares”) that should be the letter “I” or “A” and then two symbol words that should be “?I” or “?A” as shown in (Illustration #3).


The single symbol turned out to be the letter “I” and the two symbol words turned out to be “MI” as shown in (Illustration #4).


Continuing in this fashion, I was able to create the symbol template shown in (Illustration #5).


But before I could create the symbol template, I discovered that the “twist” added to this document was that it was written backwards!!

So, what I deciphered as “MI” was actually “I’M” as shown in (Illustration #6).


(Illustration #7) is a line by line translation of the top of the document. You will notice that sometimes the writer gets confused and does not always write backwards.


The first few lines of (Illustration #7) are translated and transcribed as:

“I feel nothing but I feel”
“like I s(h)ould I would like”
“to feel something please”

You can see that the writer is writing the words from right to left, but is writing the lines from left to right.

The remainder of the document is shown deciphered in (Illustration #8).


Part of (Illustration #8) is translated and transcribed as:

“she th(i)nks I’m LK (Latin Kings) but I’m”
“not I wanted to kill I wanted”
“to go MOB (Member of Bloods) I need to know”

It appears from this that though the writer is thought to be a member of the Latin Kings, he is either a member (or wants to be a member) of the Bloods gang.

The second sample we will examine is part of a seven page document. One page is shown in (Illustration #9).


(Illustration #10) is a close-up view of the top of this page.


(Illustration #11) contains close-up views of the symbols shown in the top line and fourth line of (Illustration #10). (Illustration #11) should help you to see how the code is constructed.


(Illustration #12) is a translated and transcribed view of the paragraph show in (Illustration #10).


(Illustration #13) shows the message that is hidden in (Illustration #10 & Illustration #12).


Let’s examine another part of this seven page sample which is shown in (Illustration #14).


(Illustration #15) is the translated and transcribed paragraph shown in (Illustration #14).


(Illustration #16) shows the message that is hidden in the paragraph shown in (Illustration #14 and Illustration #15).


The “twist” used by this writer is that not only is the message in code. The words are written backwards and the lines of text are read from right to left! And parts from bottom to top!

The added challenge of writing words right to left as shown in the first sample, or writing words and lines from right to left and even bottom to top, as shown in the second sample, can make deciphering a code more of a challenge. But even when the code is a “edoC drawkcaB” it’s not “elbissopmi ot rehpiced.”

GS KLIVANS is a gang consultant and lecturer specializing in gang codes.
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