Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)

  • Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) is an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, California
  • It has spread to other parts of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. 
  • The majority of the gang is ethnically composed of Central Americans (mostly Salvadorans) and active in urban and suburban areas.
  • One of the gang’s mottos is “Mata, roba, viola, controla,” which translates to: “Kill, steal, rape, control,” according to the Justice Department.
The "13" included in the gang's name is thought to derive from the 13th letter of the alphabet, or "M."

MS13 gang members are known to mark their territory with graffiti of the letters MS as well as slogans unique to the gang.   New male members of MS13 go through an initiation in which they are “jumped in” by being beaten by other gang members as another member counts aloud to 13. 

The MS13 gang is known as Mara Salvatrucha. A recent federal indictment describing the gang notes that the name is a combination of Spanish slang terms: “Mara” is a word used in El Salvador for gang. “Salvatrucha” is combination of words, “Salva” an abbreviation for El Salvador and “trucha” which means, heads up.

 A family in 2014 walks by a wall covered by a symbol from the Mara Salvatrucha gang in Ilopango, El Salvador.

Their main rivals are the Barrio 18, or 18th Street Gang.

MS13 gang members once created fear and drew attention with wild, dark tattoos that covered nearly their entire faces. Gang members had since stepped away from such a look in order to avoid being detected by law enforcement. The new generation of gang members are known to have far fewer tattoos, sometimes only some ink inside their lips or somewhere on their bodies that can be covered with clothing.
An example of a tattoo of the gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The Obama administration has labeled a violent Central American street gang as an international criminal organization subject to U.S. government sanctions, the first time this designation was given to such a group.

MS13 members are known to have three dots in their tattoos for the three destinations they expect to face in life – the hospital, death and jail. 

Their main rivals are the Barrio 18, or 18th Street Gang. MS-13 is in a perpetual gang war with Barrio 18. The fighting between both groups has largely contributed to the extreme violence in El Salvador.

Members of the MS13 are known to display the gang’s colors – blue and white. Those are the same colors as the El Salvador flag.

The MS13 gang began in Los Angeles in the 1980s as a way for immigrants from El Salvador to protect themselves from predators in the immigrant community there.

The MS13 gang consists primarily of people who are from Central America or are descendants of people from Central America. Most members have lineage from El Salvador, but it includes members with family ties to several countries, including Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and others. 

Members of the MS13 gang who are illegally in the United States are known to use machetes instead of guns, as carrying the long-bladed weapon does not bring the same potential for a criminal charge as carrying a gun. Federal and state laws prohibit undocumented immigrants from having guns.

MS-13's arch-rival gang Barrio 18 has a sickening reputation just as bad
  • Founded in Los Angeles and spread throughout Mexico and Central America
  • Believed to have 30,000 to 50,000 members across 20 US states
  • Allied with the Mexican Mafia gang but sworn rivals to MS-13 

The Barrio 18 gang was founded in Los Angeles and was initially ethnically Mexican, but has grown enormously in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatamala. Pictured: Members in El Salvador

Barrio 18 members are seen in a transfer to the San Francisco Gotera penitentiary in 2015. The El Salvadoran government transferred 1,177 members to the US in an effort to curb the gang

18, XVIII or XV3
666 or 99 (for 6+6+6=18 or 9+9=18)
BEST (for 'Barrio Eighteenth Street')
8P (for having killed a police officer)
X8 (total loyalty to the gang)

Members of the Barrio 18 gang are presented to the media after a police raid in San Salvador

The gang has sown terror from its origin in Los Angeles throughout Central America. Pictured: A grandmother and her grandson walk past Barrio 18 graffiti in San Salvador

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