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Getting to Know the Mara Salvatrucha

NCJ Number
Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine Volume: 23 Issue: 6 Dated: June 1999 Pages: 60-62
A Valdez
Date Published
3 pages
In the late 1980s, in the Los Angeles area, some refugees from El Salvador formed a gang now known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS).
The MS has expanded into 12 additional States, Washington, DC, and Canada. Maintaining active ties with MS members and functions in El Salvador, it is an international gang. The MS is involved in a large number of criminal enterprises including selling and distributing drugs, especially cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine. While car theft is a lucrative business for the MS, drug selling, along with the sale of firearms, is their top money-making business. The article describes the cultural and ethnic makeup of the MS, rivalries with other gangs, and gang symbolism. The members of MS generally show no fear of law enforcement and are not easily intimidated. Many MS members are in the United States illegally and are concerned about deportation. Gang members who are deported back to El Salvador risk being targeted by the Black Shadow death squad.


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