Lifestyle and Organization
NLR's Role in Prison Violence
NLR members often become career criminals who float in and out of the prisons. In prison,
survival depends, in part, upon gang affiliation. Prison gangs are drawn strictly along racial
lines, especially since the balance of whites, Blacks and Hispanics in California state prisons
has evened out at about 30 percent for each group. Reportedly, NLR also acts as an umbrella
group for other white gangs in various prisons.
According to recent estimates, the Nazi Low Riders account for 80 percent of the violence in
California prisons. California prison authorities recently gave NLR official "disruptive gang
status" because the group has quickly become such a visible source of violence and criminal
activity. This violence is generally related to the drug trade, but NLR members also have been
known to lead revolts and instigate violent confrontations among inmates and with officials in
correction facilities. Most NLR members feel that all other white gangs in prison are subordinate
to NLR, with the exception of AB.
Today, in many prisons, a strong link remains between NLR and AB, but a growing number of NLR
members vehemently oppose such an alliance and want to achieve an independent status as the only
major white gang. Some feel that older AB members are not in touch with current trends and are
using outdated criminal tactics that will make AB obsolete. Most NLR leaders, however, remain
loyal to their roots. NLR members who advocated breaking ties with AB have been kicked out of
Structure of the NLR in Prison
NLR membership in prison is based on a three-tier hierarchy consisting of "seniors," "juniors"
and "kids." The typical NLR unit is led by seniors, some of whom have been connected to the
gang since its early days in the California Youth Authority. To attain "senior" status, NLR
members must have been active for at least five years, and must be elected a senior by three
other senior members. In the NLR hierarchy, "juniors," who are just below seniors, cannot
induct new members, but they can and do recruit potential members. Only a senior can confer
membership. The senior who inducts a "kid" becomes his mentor and disciplinarian. "Kids"
usually come from smaller white power gangs like the Peni-skins and Insane White Boys.
New NLR members are frequently recruited from smaller California skinhead gangs like the Insane White Boys.
Lifestyle on the Streets
NLR members tend to congregate
in pool halls, bars, fast-food joints, video arcades and high schools, where they try to
recruit new members. These sites have sometimes been the scenes of NLR attacks, as was the
case in the video arcade incident in Costa Mesa. NLR members have been known to strike at
innocent people who become the targets of their racially motivated rage.
In some communities, NLR members live together in the same apartment buildings. These NLR
clusters often serve as family-like units for alienated individuals who have no other sense of
belonging. Although NLR does not fight other gangs over "turf," it does tend to dominate the
areas where members live. When NLR members move into a residential complex, they often establish
themselves by harassing, and even threatening, other residents.
Organization on the Streets
Many NLR members consider the streets their second home after prison. In contrast to NLR's
well-defined structure in prison, it is much more difficult to determine how NLR members relate
to leadership on the streets. An NLR member who "calls the shots" on the street probably earned
his position by demonstrating "leadership" qualities.
NLR has been expanding on the streets. As is the case in prisons, many recruits come from
smaller existing white gangs. Most members are indoctrinated into the group by NLR leaders in
prison. Few individuals have tried to claim membership without validation from established NLR
leaders out of fear of retribution. NLR also has undergone a series of freezes and controls in
response to the group's explosive growth and as a way of limiting potentially unacceptable
NLR is considered dangerous because it is well organized and tightly knit. Its criminal
operations are run efficiently through excellent means of communication. Letters called "kites"
are exchanged between NLR members in prison and their counterparts outside. The letters often
use the runic alphabet, making them more difficult for law enforcement to monitor.
On the streets, other white gangs such as Insane White Boys, La Mirada Punks, Independent Skins,
and Orange County Skins are subservient to NLR's authority. Some law enforcement officials
believe that NLR hopes to unite all white gangs under its umbrella and tax their proceeds from
criminal operations in order to aid incarcerated NLR members. Currently, a frail alliance among
various white gangs, known as the Southern California Skinhead Alliance or So. Cal Skins, is in
operation. Public Enemy Number One Skins (Peni-skins) leads the coalition with NLR.
In 1995, the Police Department in Upland, (a suburb east of Los Angeles),
also identified a link between NLR and a gang called the Vicious Circle (VC). It also became
evident that NLR was closely associated with other white criminally active individuals in
Upland whom law enforcement officials refer to as "peckerwoods." The term "peckerwood" is a
reference both to white youths who have loose ties to white power gangs, as well as actual
skinhead gangs who have adopted the term "peckerwood" in their name.
The Drug Trade
As noted, NLR members are particularly dominant in the trade and production of methamphetamine
(also called "meth" or "speed"). Speed is relatively easy to produce and is both high in demand
and very profitable. NLR members have established themselves in the business of running "meth
labs" out of any place they can find, from million-dollar homes to motel rooms. In San
Bernardino, NLR has created numerous meth labs. In Orange County, in Antelope Valley and
Riverside, the gang has become a major distributor of the drug. It is also likely that NLR
is working with some motorcycle gangs in meth production and distribution.
In addition to blatant Nazi imagery, NLR members' tattoos oten contain letters from the runic alphabet, which they associate with Germanic culture.
NLR members are often addicted to speed, a factor that increases their proclivity towards
violence. On the other hand, their use of drugs may keep them from organizing more
effectively than they already have.
Role of Female NLR Members
One unique aspect of NLR is the participation of females, who form the backbone of the gang.
NLR depends on females not only for personal and financial support, but also for the
continuation of business operations when male members are incarcerated. According to an Upland
law enforcement report, female members act as liaisons to speed users unaffiliated with the
NLR. The females supply these addicts with drugs and sexual favors. Eventually, NLR members
recruit these drug users through force and intimidation and coerce them to commit crimes. In
addition, these addicts are often targets of NLR-organized robberies, whose profits go towards
the gang's expenses and lifestyle. Since the victims engage in illegal activity, the crimes
often go unreported.
Other Criminal Activity
Nazi Low Riders have participated in a wide variety of crimes outside of the drug trade,
including credit card fraud, assault and illegal gun trafficking. Unlike traditional skinhead
groups, NLR members are armed with much more than steel-toed boots and fists. Today, they
often carry handguns, rifles and automatic weapons, many of which are illegal.
While trying to prove themselves, gain "honor" and build a vicious image in the gang world,
NLR has also proved to be a threat to law enforcement. In the spring of 1998, armed NLR
members attacked two police officers in Torrance. When one reached for an officer's gun, the
officer's partner shot and killed him.
Clearly, NLR's ability to attract members from smaller white power gangs poses a danger.
However, an even more sinister trend is NLR's alliance with other better-established white
supremacist organizations. The anger, hostility and racism of NLR members make them perfect
candidates to act as foot soldiers for the racist agendas of these organizations. White power
groups such as World Church of the Creator (WCOTC), White Aryan Resistance (WAR), and Aryan
Nations seek to exploit NLR members' disillusionment and frustration by enticing them with the
idea that they will gain a sense of purpose by joining the greater battle for "Aryan supremacy."
White supremacist organizations manipulatively feed on NLR members' appetite for hatred of other
races by bombarding them with literature that describes the "white racialist struggle." These
organizations only recently have begun to tap into NLR for possible recruits to their cause,
but the potential threat of an alliance is alarming. The idea of a "racial war" gives the gang
members another excuse and outlet for their deep-seated rage,
and provides them with a certain
discipline, albeit misguided, in their lives.
A NLR member's "SWP" tattoo, signifying "Supreme White Power," clearly depicts his racist ideology.
The relationship between white supremacist groups and NLR has not always been amicable. Some
members of the white power movement feel that the Nazi Low Riders are a detriment to the
struggle. In his online newsletter, San Diego racist activist Alex Curtis has said that NLR
members "are worthless white people" because they are drug dealers. Other white supremacists
have described NLR members as a disgrace to the white race, and the NLR-run dope and speed
trade as degrading since, they say, it brings whites down to the level of Hispanic gang members.
Regardless of these more negative views, NLR has the potential to play a significant role in
the white power movement.
Keeping Tabs on the NLR
NLR is a criminal force to reckon with in California and the gang could evolve into a national
problem over the next few years. While NLR is predominantly in California, some members have
already settled in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada, and Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Authorities
anticipate that NLR members will continue their eastward migration. Law enforcement's vigilant
efforts in confronting the dangers NLR poses to public order and safety have been commendable.
This report is intended to increase public awareness about the growing menace of this gang.
Next: Lifestyle and Organization