Mara Salvatrucha, more infamously known as the MS-13, is an international criminal gang based in Los Angeles, California. It originated in the city in the 1970s and 1980s with an “initial” purpose to protect Salvadoran immigrants from other existing gangs in the area. However, the gang shifted from its original course and turned into a criminal organization.
One thing most people often overlook is the fact the MS-13 did not start anywhere else in Latin America and then come storming the United States through the southern border to go about all its criminal conducts in the country.While many (if not most) of the original members were immigrants, the gang – as an organization – formed in the United States.
In the 1970s when El Salvador was still in the middle of a devastating civil war, people from the country fled to Los Angeles and settled in an area that was already controlled by other gangs.
They socialized and bonded with other groups as a method of protection, and eventually formed their own gang now known as the MS-13.
Mara is the term used in El Salvador for “gang.” Salvatrucha is a combination of Salva for Salvadorian and Trucha for “alert” or “look out.”
The number 13 refers to M (the 13th letter of the alphabet) yet it also denotes the gang’s allegiance with a prison gang called Mexican Mafia.
Members of MS-13 are not just men, but also a lot of menacing-looking women who are involved both directly and indirectly with the gang. Here are some pictures and quick facts about them.
10 Violent Initiation Process
Most gangs have their own signature initiation process. Sometimes they require new recruits to commit very specific type of crimes and choose particular victim for the purpose. Things are no different in MS-13; and initiation process applies to both male and female members.
One thing that makes MS-13’s initiation process a little bit peculiar is that all new members need to have at least one connection already in the gang, whether a friend or family. An existing member must be able to vouch for new recruit to get rid of any possibility of disloyal personnel.
In some way, this helps the organization to eliminate parts of the selection process. Potential recruits must be willing to face hardship of any kind as a demonstration of loyalty.
A lot of young women who grew up in the area controlled by the MS-13 ended up joining the gang anyway. Many of them believe that being a gang member will make them look fierce and help protect themselves from rival gangs on the streets.