The New York Post recently designated the Mac Baller Brims “New York City’s most dangerous gang.” In one of its articles, the newspaper equated the Mac Baller Brims with the Mafia. Naturally, almost immediately a number of other journalists took exception to the Post’s depiction of the gang, calling the writers at the Post “drama queens” and “hysterical pansies.” And admittedly, even though the Mac Baller Brims are nasty, vicious and brutal, they are not in the same league as the Mafia. The Brims lack organization, size and wealth.
That being said, there were some similarities: just like the Italian gangsters, the Mac Baller Brims had their own language and customs. And the Brims had a narrative history, too, just like the Italians. Of course, the Mafia traced its roots back hundreds of years, whereas the Brims could only trace theirs back to 1969, to a group in California called the L.A. Hat Gang. The Hat Gang changed their name to the 5-9 Brims in the 1970s. Their home turf focused around 59th Street in South L.A.’s Harvard Park area. So when they decided to change the name of their gang, they went with the 5 and the 9 of the street address. The name change provided them with a geographic identity rather than an abstract identity, a la the L.A. Hat Gang.[i]
When Omar Portee established the United Blood Nation in 1993, one of the original New York sets he established was called the 59 Brims. Portee knowingly borrowed the name from the West Coast Bloods. The 59 Brims had no affiliation with their California namesakes, just the same name. Over time, the New York 59 Brims grew so numerous that they divided the set into four subsets. Collectively, the four subsets called themselves the New York Blood Brim Army.[ii]
One of the four subsets was the Mac Baller Brims, which formed in 2001. The ‘Mac’ part of the name was a tribute to Omar Portee, while the ‘Baller’ part of the name was gang slang for gangster or drug dealer.
The “don” or “godfather” of the Mac Baller Brims (MBB) was Larry Calderon aka “O.” His nickname was the capital O of the alphabet, not the numerical 0 or zero. Calderon’s right-hand man was Eli Rios aka Blood Eli. Together, Calderon and Rios comprised what was called the “Board of Directors.” This Board of Directors functioned as a Mafia-like Commission. In fact, it was blatantly obvious that the entire command structure of the Mac Baller Brims mimicked the Italian Mafia. Like Marlon Brando in the Godfather, Calderon had the final say-so, but he never made a unilateral decision; he always discussed things with Rios. Then he made the call.
The New York Police Department identified 525 confirmed members of the Mac Baller Brims, but were the first to concede that the number was in reality much higher what with hundreds of “associates” and wannabe “YGs” or young gangsters, who, although technically prospective gang members, functioned as the real McCoy.
Both Calderon and Rios topped the tape measure at just below 6 feet. Calderon shaved his head and wore a neatly trimmed goatee, providing him with an appearance of ruthlessness which was by no means merely cosmetic. He really was a bad ass. On his part, Rios wore his hair cropped short and sported a wispy moustache, along with a patchy chin-beard. Although Rios didn’t project the malevolent menace of Calderon, he was a stone-cold killer who knew how to take care of business. Rios killed without feeling, deliberately and with forethought. Calderon, on the other hand, was a hot-head subject to temper tantrums and explosive emotions. He was most dangerous when angry or jealous.
Home base for the Mac Baller Brims was the Morrisania section of The Bronx. But the gang had a long reach, stretching into Brooklyn, Staten Island, upstate New York, as well as New Jersey. And they dominated Rikers Island, where at any given moment there were dozens of Mac Baller Brims being held for one crime or another.
One high-ranking law enforcement official called the Mac Baller Brims, “Top dogs in the city. There are more of them than any other Bloods, and they’re highly organized, extremely violent, very powerful. Other gangs fear them.”[iii]
The Mac Baller Brims were loosely organized into two groups or divisions: a money group and a murder or enforcement group. Don’t misunderstand. The money group was not a bunch of accountants keeping track of income and expenses, putting together profit and loss statements or auditing the books. Remember, these were gangbangers. The term money group referred only to the fact that the group’s primary job was to make money. They made money by means of criminal activity.
And business was good.
[iii] “Top dogs in the city. There are more of them than any other Bloods, and they’re highly organized, extremely violent, very powerful. Other gangs fear them.” http://nypost.com/2014/09/07/the-mac-baller-brims-nycs-most-dangerous-gang/
This is a teaser, an excerpt, from the forthcoming book by Christopher Zoukis and John Lee Brook: United Blood Nation: The Untold Story of the East Coast Bloods, Headpress.