Danny Trejo has hundreds of acting credits, most of which see him starring as drug dealers, inmates, or murderers. 

The scars on his face that can twist into a menacing scowl add credibility to the dangerous characters he portrays. Additionally, adding depth to his character is the myriad of tattoos all over his body connected to his dark past as a Mexican-American gangster. 

The actor has never attempted to conceal his tattoos, which are often on full display in his movies. 

It represents the markings of his old life, including his unique chest tattoo, which has a very interesting backstory. 

Danny Trejo’s Famous Chest Tattoo

Trejo has a huge, voluptuous Mexican woman wearing a sombrero right smack-dab in the middle of his chest. 

In 2014, the actor explained the history behind his chest tattoo while appearing on The Howard Stern Show. He got the design when he realized he had nothing better to do in prison. 

“Harry 'SuperJew’ Ross did it. I have to say that it was one of his first tattoos. And I was doing forever, so Harry said, ‘Let me do this tattoo, Danny,’” Trejo explained. 

The artist had only completed the outline of the body ink when Trejo was transferred to a different facility after misbehaving in prison.

This meant that it was incomplete, but Ross vowed to follow Trejo to every prison he went to complete it. Ross followed him to the next facility, but a prison race riot caused the actor to be transferred again. 

He ended up following the actor into three different prisons to complete the ink art. 

Danny Trejo talking about his the chest tattoo hw got while he was in prison on The Howard Stern Show

Danny Trejo talking about the chest tattoo he got while in prison on The Howard Stern Show. (Source: YouTube)

Unfortunately, the artist hated it because it was his first work and felt he could have done way better. 

But regardless of what Ross felt about it, the Machete star noted the chest art made him so famous that he is now a renowned artist in the biker world. 

Since the first body ink, Trejo has gotten many that hold special meaning in his life over the years. 

Why Was Danny Trejo in Prison?

Before pursuing a career in Hollywood, the Mexican-American spent over a decade in and out of prison. 

As a kid, he had been introduced to the life of crime and drugs by his uncle Gilbert. He even got sent to juvenile for a short while when he was 10. 

He continued hanging out with his uncle and followed him to robberies and drug deals to maintain their lifestyle. 

It eventually caught up to him for the first time in 1962, when he was 18. He went to prison for drug dealing and robbery. 

You would think that changed him, but sadly, he spent eleven years in and out of prison. 

In 1968, a prison riot broke out in one of the facilities he was in, and he hit a guard with a rock. He was sent to solitary confinement for three months and faced the death penalty for attempted murder.

Luckily, no one came forward to corroborate the claims, and in August 1969, he was released on parole. He vowed to change his life since then, and he did for good.