PW Tattoo.jpg

    Status: Active
    AKA: American Peckerwood, APW, PW, Wood
    Areas of Operation: United States; Alaska, Arkansas, California
    Headquarters: California
    Ideology: Social (White Supremacist)
    Affiliates: Aryan Brotherhood, Hells Angels, Nazi Low Riders


    Organizational History

    The term Peckerwood has been used for decades as a reference to poor and/or rural whites from the Southern region of the U.S.[1]  The term peckerwood eventually came to describe white prison inmates in California, especially those men who were willing to fight in order to avoid being raped or robbed by fellow prisoners.  It was through this characterization that the title became a source of pride for some whites, especially many within white power movements.  It is disputed whether the Peckerwoods are a collection of organized white power gangs, or if they lack structure and only make up a collection of individuals who are Aryan Brotherhood or other white supremacist gang prospects. 

    Most of the known Peckerwoods members work for and with the AB, doing tasks at the behest of AB leaders in exchange for prestige, protection, and some financial incentives.  On occasion, a Peckerwood will be promoted to AB level if they carry out an assassination at the request of the parent organization.  According to law enforcement officials, many members of the Peckerwoods wear gear with the emblem of a woodpecker riding a motorcycle and the slogan, “Peckerwoods, this wood don’t burn.” Other symbols include a woodpecker head, often with the letters PW or APW; some members may even sport Woody Woodpecker or Mr. Horsepower cartoon character depictions.


    Many Peckerwoods recruit new members from prison or various social circles outside of the prison walls including un-established motorcycle clubs and methamphetamine circles.  Often, Peckerwoods will also enlist individuals and create AB-related drug rings in many areas.[2]


    Peckerwood members carry out tasks at the direction of Aryan Brotherhood or other superior prison-based white power organizations.  They have a significant role in the methamphetamine business, and hold close ties to many motorcycle gangs, such as the Nazi Low Riders.  PW members have been charged with a slew of crimes, including attempted murder, robbery, burglary, weapons offenses, and possession and sale of narcotics. The San Fernando Valley Peckerwoods (SVP) are known to engage in more violent behavior towards minority groups and even used bomb hoaxes to intimidate black families from moving into certain neighborhoods.[3]


    PW member.JPG

    A white supremacist, and possible member or affiliate of the Peckerwood prison gang.[4] 

    PW member II.jpg

    An alleged member of the Peckerwood gang.[5]

    PW image.jpg

    Image denoting a specific subgroup for the larger organization.[6]

    PW Tattoo II.jpg

    Tattoo of a possible Peckerwoods member or affiliate.[7]

    PW Letter.jpg

    Photograph taken by Dennis O. Callwood; image depicts an alleged member of the Peckerwood gang.[8]


    1. Anti-Defamation League. (n.d.). Hate on display: A visual database of extremist symbols, logos, and tattoos: Peckerwood. Retrieved from [1]
    2. Holthouse, D. (2005, Fall). Smashing the shamrock. Intelligence Report, (119). Retrieved from [2].,2
    3. Peckerwoods. (n.d.). White prison gangs: Gang Identification Task Force. Retrieved from [3]
    4. Know Gangs. (2007, March 28). Peckerwood. Retrieved from [4]
    5. Know Gangs. (2007, July 29). Straight Peckerwood. Retrieved from [5]
    6. Photobucket. (n.d.). South Texas Peckerwood. Retrieved from [6]
    7. Blog News Tem. (2009, May 29). White gangs America: Peckerwoods. Retrieved from [7]
    8. Callwood, D. O. (1994/2007). Charles Isaacs Photographs Inc (originally from Peckerwood Family - the Gang Series). Retrieved from [8]

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