in the fight against gangs
Tattoo guide the cBSAs newest weapon
in the fight against gangs
ET l Lasl Updated: Mar 5,2A12 9:54 AM ET
By Sheila Dabu Nonato
OTTAWA Canadian Border Services agents may have one more tool to help in
detecting gang members or members of a criminal organization: a new tattoo handbook.
According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, a cat tattoo can riepresent
prisoner's "life as a thief.'
"A single cat signifies that the criminal acted alone, while several cats together show that
the criminal was part of a gang," the handbook said.
The head of a tomcat is considered *good luck'for a thief or serves as a warning'as
signifies a dangerous criminal rarho hates law enforcement, especially if worn on the
chest,'according to the agency.
A version of the handbook was unofficially rcleased on Feb. z8 by an advocacy group
called 'Public Intelligence.'The group identifies itseH as an 'international, collaborative
research project aimed at aggregating the collective work of independent researchers
around the globe who wish to defend the public's right to access information.'
The handbook, which was posted on Public Intelligence's website, provides photos and
descriptions of tattoos associated with gangs and criminal groups.
Travis OBrien, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency, said the report
'was not officially released by the CBSA
a fulsome response, wewill require appropriate time to review and
address,"he said in an email to Postmedia News.
Accord.ing to the handboo\ a three-dot tattoo formed in a triangle could symbolize
'prison, hospital, cemetery," which represents 'the path and ultimate end of a gang
lifestyle," it said. The three dots also could mean 'a cranir life'("mi vida loca') which is
associated with the Mexican Mafia.
This tattoo is uzually the first an individual receives before becoming a full-fledged gang
However, the handbook recognized that simply having a tattoo does not mean an
individual is involved in crime.
'Someone who tattoos himseH may not necessarily be a gang member; however, he is at
the very least indicating that he feels he runs outside the nonns of society, that he is a
rebel,'the agency wrote in the handbookt section on Asian gang tattoos.
is not uncommon, nor generally done by the average citizen in Asian
culture," it said, because it is seen as a 'defilement'of the body.
Asian gangs in Hong Kong usually depict animals such as snakes, dragons and tigers,
according to the handboolc
Meanwhile, thiee Ottawa tattoo parlours,
decade or more, said they hadn't seen any customers requesting gang
Tim Meadow'manager at Planet Ink on'Rideau Stieet, near parliament
Hill; said in the
lt) years that rhe tattoo paif b* has been in business, t . t
these types of tattoos.
more'popular'tats are,the standard *skulls, dragons, fish and words," he
The parlour's clientele includes-people all walks of life, including'business
full body suits" which they can keephidden, Meadow added.
At Silverline Tattoo & Body Piercing, also on Rideau Street, Beth
Moores, a customer
service representative, said police haven't made the tattoo parlour
aware of any types of
The parlour, she noted, has denied some customers'requests
for a teardrop tattoo,
usually asked to be lmated below the eye, which may mean
that the person has been
incarcerated or has killed someone.
'we always tell them'No.'we don't
do face tattoos,. Moores said.