Puro Tango Blast

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Tango Prison Gangs
Founding location TDCJ, Texas, U.S.
Years active late 1980s–present
Ethnicity Hispanic, White, Black
Membership 14,000 - 17,000[1][2]
Criminal activities Prostitution[3][4]

Puro Tango Blast, or Tango Blast, is a term used to collectively describe various regionally based gangs of generally Hispanic men from major Texas cities.


Incarcerated Hispanic men from major Texas cities (including Houston, San Antonio, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Rio Grande Valley, and West Texas) have banded together for protection from established security threat groups like Mexikanemi and the Texas Syndicate.[5][6][7] Each regional group is individually called a Tango.[5] The term Tango Blast, in actuality, does not refer to a separate group; rather, it refers to the idea that a particular Tango member is more criminally active than others.[8] Some Tango members say that Tango is an acronym for "Together Against Negative Gang Organizations"; however, Tango originally meant something like 'hometown clique.'[9]


Although often referred to as a prison gang, Tango Blast is different than traditional prison gangs such as Mexikanemi and the Texas Syndicate, lacking the typically strict hierarchy of those organizations.[10] The Texas Department of Public Safety classifies Tango Blast as a "loose affiliation" gang, with "relaxed membership requirements and little to no detectable leadership hierarchy." [11] The El Paso County sheriff's officials have noted that "there is no known formal organization of the gang on El Paso streets." [12] While those more structured organizations, known as Security Threat Groups,[13] will have a variety of structures, Tango members in a particular area of a correctional facility will elect a silla (Spanish for "chair"), to speak for that area of the facility.[14] There is no consistent pathway for initiation into a Tango; rather, each individual set of Tango members determines who it admits and by what methods.[5][6] One initiation method is called a "Cora Check" or a test of heart in which the potential member must engage in physical combat with 2 or more members, provided that he does not surrender during the melee he is inducted to the gang.[9] Members are not required to perform gang activity when released from prison, making Tangos more popular among younger people.[9]

Individual Tangos[edit]

While it is commonly believed that there are only four chapters to the gang, other regions of the state have their own Tangos.[9] Collectively, the tangos from Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston.[9] are known as the 4 Horsemen. Individual Tango members use regionally appropriate symbols as tattoos to identify the tango to which they belong. Generally, Tango members identify themselves by sport team logos or area codes from their home town or region.[15] Houstone members, who are from Houston, often use the Houston Astros star.[8][9] D-Town members, who are from Dallas, may use the Dallas Cowboys star,[6][8][9] Foritos members, who are also known as Foros and are from Fort Worth, often use the 817 area code, a star with 817 in the center similar to a pentagram.[8][9][15] ATX or La Capirucha (meaning The Capital) members, who are from Austin, may use the Texas Capitol building.[8][9][15][12] These four Tangos represent the earliest Tangos to form.[16] Other areas of Texas have their own Tangos, notably West Texas (Puro West or Wesos, often displaying 806 or 432, 23-20, the word West, or a WT in tattoos[16]), the Valley (Vallucos),[15][17] San Antonio (Orejones),[18] Corpus Christi (Corpitos),[18] and El Paso (Chucos or EPT).[7][12]


History, in their series Gangland, dedicated an episode to a description of Puro Tango Blast in episode 11 of season 5.


  1. ^ Glass, Doug (April 29, 2011). "Over 14,000 strong, TDCJ’s Tango Blast gang still creating major issues inside the walls". Backgate Website. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Tango Blast". Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  3. ^ http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Gang-members-soar-past-100-000-in-Texas-5411969.php
  4. ^ http://www.dps.texas.gov/director_staff/media_and_communications/2014/txHumanTraffickingAssessment.pdf
  5. ^ a b c Brendel, Patrick (January 7, 2008). "Who is 'West Texas?'". oaoa.com. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-tango_30met.ART.State.Edition2.4aa5a13.html[dead link]
  7. ^ a b http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/pubs32/32146/appb.htm
  8. ^ a b c d e http://info.publicintelligence.net/PrisonGangsTangos.pdf
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Vogel, Chris (August 15, 2007). "Gang Lite?". Houston Press. p. 2. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ Vogel, Chris (August 15, 2007). "Gang Lite?". Houston Press. p. 1. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Texas Gang Threat Assessment 2012". March 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c Borunda, Daniel (April 8, 2013). "Texas' biggest gang gains foothold in El Paso". El Paso Times. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  13. ^ http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/cid/Pamphlet-Narr%20Form-09-07.pdf
  14. ^ http://houstone.blogspot.com/2008/04/puro-tango-blast.html
  15. ^ a b c d http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/113008dnmettango.3d2fd2c.html
  16. ^ a b http://www.oaoa.com/news/west-12407-texas-tangos.html
  17. ^ http://old.brownsvilleherald.com/ts_comments.php?id=60230_0_10_0_C
  18. ^ a b http://alanpetersworld.blogspot.com/2010/04/security-threat-groups-in-texas.html