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Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Its Violent World

NCJ Number
L.A.E. Journal Volume: December 2011 Dated: December 2011 Pages: 26-33
Albert P. De Amicis
Date Published
December 2011
38 pages
This paper follows the beginnings of one of the most notorious transnational street gangs in existence today, tracing the growth of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) from its emigration from El Salvador to Los Angeles, California.
This paper follows the beginnings and growth of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), detailing its emigration from El Salvador to Los Angeles, California, and its history in becoming one of the most notorious transnational street gangs in existence today. At its origins, El Salvador had just suffered a civil war that claimed an estimated 100,000 people, and resulted in mass emigration to the United States. MS-13's transformation from a local "sureno" street gang (southern street gang) to a transnational gang occurred as a result of the United States' deportation of many MS-13 members back to El Salvador. At this juncture, they used their knowledge from what they had learned in the U.S. and created MS-13 in Central America and Mexico. This paper will prove from the research just how the MS-13 and Los Zetas, a Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO), collaborated in those countries; establishing various criminal enterprises and exporting them to the United States. The author also explores anti-gang legislation in Central America, and alternative models in the U.S. used by the Boston Police Department and the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force in Fairfax County, Virginia. The Virginia Task Force creates a formidable gang task force consisting of law enforcement elements from Federal, State, and local levels, coupled with mentoring programs, like Boys and Girls Clubs. In conclusion, the author stresses that political leaders need to promote and support anti-gang legislation. Arguing that these laws are vital in that they present a united front to keep citizens safe from DTOs, such as Los Zetas, and street gangs like the MS-13, and they send a strong message of support to law enforcement agencies and their efforts to strengthen public safety.