Gang numbers have been on the rise across the country but nothing compares with MS-13. Mara Salvatrucha, “La Mara” a name of a street in El Salvador and the number “13” is recognized by the mexican mafia
as the area of which MS-13 originated and controled. This gang was formed by the sons of those who fled from a hostile El Salvador. Common markings to indicate MS-13 involvement include tattoo’s “13”, “Sureno” a Spanish word meaning southerner, “M”, “MS”, or”Salvadorian Pride” in gothic type letting on the chest. Another form of course is gang colors, MS-13 represents by wearing a blue and white bandanna (Salvadorian flag colors) and hand symbols in the form of an “M” and a “S”.
In the early 80’s, civil wars shook El Salvador’s foundation and a new breed of gangs rose from the ashes of destruction. Originating in the Pico Union area of southern California, spreading into El Salvador and eventually into Canada, MS-13, short for Mara Salvatrucha-13 has continued to multiply into what Newsweek refers to as “the most dangerous gang in America”.
The creation of many ethnic gangs derived from a need of protection and MS-13 is no exception. When refugees entered southern California illegally, they discovered they needed protection from Hispanic gangs in the area. The civil wars in El Salvador were quite gruesome, children were also involved in the chaos and also learned the art of killing. When the refugees formed the initial group, it was the birth of a force to be reckoned with on the streets of southern California and other gangs learned to respect them. Quickly, MS-13 climbed the ranks and began controling the streets which spread into larger territories. In the 90’s many gang members were deported because of the gangs operations and sent back to El Salvador, where ultimately the gang was able to achieve even more. While building relationships, recruiting and setting up contacts in El Salvador, the gang became even more powerful.
Originally to be an MS-13 member, a recruit had to of Salvadorian descent but as the gang has grown, so have ideas about recruitment. Recruits are getting younger everyday, some start building an impressive crime resume at the age of 11, while most of the recruits are of hispanic descent including Mexicans now, the gang is still dominantly Salvadorian. Apparently MS-13 doesn’t recruit women, women are used for sex, to act as a decoy, transporting and even computer programming; but women aren’t allowed the prestige to be a pledged MS-13 member.
MS-13 is responsible for several incidents in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in efforts intimidate the government. Last January and February warnings were sent to the Presidents of Guatemala and Honduras in the form of notes that told of further plans if the government continued to target the gangs, attached to the bodies of two dismembered males. Later in December, MS-13 members attacked a bus carrying 22 women and 6 children on a shopping trip, all of the victims were butchered, apparently by the use of machetes. The gang often uses machetes and is known for most gruesome acts of violence. Presently, with so many gang initiated crimes El Salvador and Honduras are locking up gang members. Even if a crime hasn’t been committed, if a member is suspected in an area, police are hunting them down and locking them up to hault future gang plans.
Last month U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, met with a South Florida anti-gang force going over new information derived from a three day trip to Honduras to speak with President Ricardo Maduro about MS-13. Nelson has announced legislation that would make it tougher for gang members and anyone affiliated with the gangs. The legislation calls for prison sentences to be increased from the current maximum of (1) year to (10) years for anyone who smuggles a gang member across the U.S./Mexico border as well as deny entry visas for individuals suspected of having gang affiliations.
The gang has recently been a target for U.S. law enforcement as the gang continues to multiply around the nation. It’s believed that there may be as many as 20,000 members in the U.S. and spanning over 31 states. In a recent sweep, authorities were able to arrest more than 100 members knocking a small dent in operations. MS-13 is also believed to be forming an alliance with Al-Queida to smuggle illegal arms to America. The FBI has been investigating these reports but have yet to find any concrete evidence of an alliance between the two groups.