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Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) in Montgomery County Maryland

NCJ Number
Journal of Gang Research Volume: 11 Issue: 2 Dated: Winter 2004 Pages: 23-28
Jeffrey T. Wennar
Date Published
6 pages
This paper assesses the presence of Mara Salvatrucha, a gang formed by illegal El Salvadoran immigrant youths in the 1980's in Los Angeles, CA, and in Montgomery County, MD.
By 1995 the Washington Metroplex area was home to approximately 250,000 illegal Salvadoran immigrants. This influx made the Washington, DC area the second largest Salvadoran population outside of El Salvador. Mara Salvatrucha, a Hispanic street gang with thousands of members in at least six countries, is a growing threat within Montgomery County. Also referred to as MS 13, the gang is involved in a range of criminal activity, including smuggling, transporting, and distributing drugs. Gang members are often violent, primarily against members of rival gangs. MS 13 has traditionally been composed of loosely affiliated groups known as "cliques;" however, increased coordination of criminal activity has been observed between MS 13 cliques in the Washington area and cliques in other regions of the country. A 1994 report by the Vice and Intelligence Section of the Department of Police indicated that MS 13 was located in two of the six county police districts. The number of members and types of criminal activities were unknown to police. In calendar year 2002, Montgomery County Police reported the presence of MS 13 in all six police districts. In fiscal year 2003, the State's Attorney's Office prosecuted 42 known MS 13 members. The gang's rapid spread in Montgomery County suggests that MS 13 will remain among the most threatening street gangs in the country. Indications that previously independent cliques are forming alliances to facilitate criminal activity indicates the threat of criminal activity from MS 13 may increase. Photos of MS 13 graffiti in Montgomery County are presented.


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