Imagine a scared little boy wanting to be accepted by a gang. Scared to death, he walks up to a
group of other boys from a rival gang, closes his eyes, and starts to shoot. When he opens his eyes he
realizes that one of the rival gang members has been hit. Then imagine having to walk away, not run,
because in this gang a member does not run away. All of this is just to be accepted into a very violent,
dangerous gang. The Mara Salvatrucha gang, normally referred to as MS 13, has begun to make its mark
across 42 states in the United States(Worlds Most), making it the most rapidly growing, dangerous gang
in America. To understand MS 13’s power in this country, one has to consider its development as a major
crime organization, its control over its members, and the power it holds.
Mara Salvatrucha was organized in Los Angeles in the late 1980’s. In the 1980’s, El Salvador
was engaged in a civil war. Men attacked as guerilla fighters, training and learning how to kill anyone for
anything. To escape the civil war, these men migrated to the United States. At first, the gang’s primary
purpose was to defend Salvadoran immigrants from being preyed upon by other street gangs. They
banded together to form MS 13. Ernesto Miranda, co-founder of Mara Salvatrucha said, “In this country
(El Salvador), we were taught to kill our own people, no matter if they were from your own blood. If your
father was the enemy, you had to kill him. So the training we got during the war in our country served to
make us one of the most violent gangs in the United States” (Domash). This is how MS 13 came about.
The “MS” stands for Mara Salvatrucha. Mara is a word meaning “posse” and salvatruchas means “street-
tough Salvadorans”. The number 13 represents the number of a street, belonging to a gang, located in
southern California (Domash). The only way MS 13 could survive on new soil was to... [continues]
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