Gangs: Ms13

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World Most Dangerous Gang: MS 13

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 join together as a

family and protect each other. The only allies they have are each other. MS 13 will do almost anything to

keep safe.

In the early days of their existence, MS 13 was once rivals with 18th Street Gang, a mostly

variation of the "maras" gangs that appeared in Los Angeles in the 1980s. SWP-18 (Salvadorans

with Pride), is another major rival, and a fatal target for many devoted MS-13 prospects seeking initiation

into the gang. The Latin Kings have also shown rival behaviors towards MS-13, especially in Newark NJ.

Rival gangs fear them. A rival gang member in L.A said “MS13 bout’ hurting people, they go rob and kill

people for no reason”(MSNBC)

Organized crime is a well thought-out process of crimes planned to be committed. This process of

organized crime is type of violence that is associated with MS 13. MS13 commits crimes from murder,

rape, beating, drive-by shootings, drug dealing, smuggling illegal immigrants, trafficking weapons,

prostitution, and kidnapping. Oscar Alvarez, Honduran National Police Minister, states, “cutting people in

pieces, raping women, killing people for fun. They might be youngsters, they might be poor. But these

youngsters are monsters” (Domash). MS-13 often leaves behind dismembered corpses, complete with the

decapitated head, at the scene of their murders. Often a grim note is attached to the body.(TerrorPlanet)

In the history of MS 13, they cut off their victims fingers and decapitate them. Sometimes they

will cut off victims’ genitals and feed them to the dogs to show no mercy. One MS 13 gang member

admitted that when he was in Houston, he robbed and beat a child. Then while he was in Texas, he killed

a man by stabbing him three times. This MS 13 member was asked if the crimes he committed would

increase his rank within the gang. He answered, “The crazier you are known to be, the more respect the

gang gives you” (Logan). MS 13 thinks the...
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