13 Things You Didn’t Know About MS-13. The One Of The Most Dangerous Gangs In The World. Origins, rituals and facts.

Mara Salvatrucha, more commonly known as MS-13, is widely thought of as the most dangerous gang in the world. Formed in the 80s with mostly Salvadoran immigrants who came over seeking refuge from their own nation because of the civil war, their motto is “Kill, rape, control.” If that isn’t scary enough, just think about the fact that a lot of them have tattoos, not only all over their bodies also but all over their faces. They are known to be horrifically violent, both in the United States and in Central and Southern America. They prefer to use machetes and knives over guns so as to make their victims die a more painful death.


1. In Order To Become A Full Member You Submit To A Vicious Beating

This initiation ritual, called a “jump-in” has been documented in numerous MS-13 cliques across the United States. A mid-level member, or “Chequo” who wants to become a full “homie” must go through this ritual. After he receives approval from the boss, the Chequo invites gang members to viciously beat him for 13 seconds. As the gang leader slowly counts “one Mississippi… two Mississippi…” five or more homies deliver savage punches and kicks to the Chequo in the spine, head, knees, and groin. There is no holding back. MS-13 believes this reveals a potential homie’s toughness and grit. If you can’t handle this, there is no way you can handle life in the gang. If, after 13 seconds, the battered Chequo has not cried out or fought back, he becomes a full-fledged member of Mara Salvatrucha.


2. Girls Who Want To Join Must Sexually Satisfy Up To 15 Gang Members

Girls who want to join MS-13 are not uncommon. A girl who wants to join the gang for whatever reason: safety, a sense of community, financial security, or influence, has two options. They can either “Jump-in” like the guys, or “Sex-in.” In a “sex-in” a girl submits to sex from as many as 15 gang members. When all the gang-members are satisfied, she officially becomes a part of the gang. Girls who sex-in, however, often find that they are treated as objects and derive little respect from other gang members. Those girls who enter the gang for safety or influence, after a sex-in are sorely disappointed. Generally a sexed-in MS-13 has to submit to the whims of any gang member, whether they be sexual or violent.



3. Women Become Property

16-year-old Brenda Paz decided to jump-in to MS-13 rather than sex-in, so she gained the respect of many of the clique members. Her boyfriend, the Palabrero, bragged that Paz took the beatings “like a man.” For this reason, as well as her relationship with the Palabrero, gang-members knew not to touch Brenda either sexually or violently. This wasn’t exactly a Disney love story. The Palabrero reserved the exclusive right to beat her. Paz eventually fled MS-13 and ratted to the FBI. She fled because of both the abuse and the murder of a friend that permanently scarred her. She became a star witness and detailed to them many of the inner-workings of the gang. She couldn’t resist the pull of MS-13, however and, after contacting some old friends, her body was found with a bullet through the head.



4. Members Must Constantly Commit Acts Of Violence To Receive Respect

Just because you are a homie does not mean you can sit back and relax. A homie has to constantly show that he has earned the title. A young girlfriend of a Palabrero in Boston told a chilling story to law enforcement. Her boyfriend placed a pistol in her hand and told her to rob a grocery store. She did it without protest to prove herself a worthy girlfriend of a Palabrero. You can prove yourself by performing any action worthy of respect. Many of the murders perpetrated by MS-13 members are simply a bid to show how tough and dangerous someone is. There is not necessarily any other motive, which is why these random murders can be difficult for law enforcement to trace.



5. Face Tattoos Tell The Story Of The Gang Member’s Life


Mara Salvatrucha has become famous for its members’ face tattoos. Oftentimes these tattoos honor El Salvador. MS-13 members are incredibly proud of their El Salvadoran heritage. The tattoos often hold religious imagery, which sometimes thanks Jesus and other times the devil. Most commonly, the tattoos tell a story of the member’s life. Each tattoo represents a new step in the bearer’s life journey. A second effect of these face tattoos is that they serve to tie gang members to MS-13 for the rest of their lives. Try leaving your gang and getting a job to support yourself with Satan tattooed on your forehead. It’s not going to happen. Lately, however, MS-13 leadership has been discouraging face tattoos in order to draw less heat from law enforcement for crimes. It is far easier to escape a murder charge without obvious gang tattoos on your face.



6. You Can’t Leave

Even while sporting face tattoos, some members become tired of the constant violence of life with MS-13 and decide to try and leave the gang. But when you join MS-13, you’re a homie for life. Leaving the gang without the permission of the clique’s boss, or “Palabrero,” means you are now a high-priority target with dangerous information. Even if you flee for months, MS-13’s extensive network means you are a dead man walking. A kid who joins at 13, then realizes a few years later that he wants to start over does not have that option. Gang life is not just a lifestyle for members of MS-13, it is a life. Perhaps that is what makes the gang so powerful. Every member has accepted that he will live with his homies and die with his homies.



7. They Have Their Own Prison

So this is when you know that the gang that you’re a part of is truly tough — when you get your very own prison. There are no guards whatsoever inside of the prison as they would all be killed. They just throw a bunch of members of MS-13 inside, and the Salvadoran army guards it from the outside. The gang has its own prison because they would just kill any other inmate as well as any guard that was put inside. It was built for 800 inmates, but there are close to 3,000 that live there. Inmates in the prison all have certain jobs, such as cooks, carpenters, and nurses. So basically, your punishment as a gang member is to live in a prison with other gang members, which isn’t all that fun, of course, but for these guys, not too bad.



8. Many Are So Violent Because They’re Trained in War

A lot of the members of the MS-13 gang trained for and fought in the civil war in their homeland before coming to the United States. This is, in part, what made them so tough and so hard to deal with. The level of violence perpetrated by gangs in the United States was nothing to them; they had seen so much worse where they were from initially. To them, walking right up to someone and killing them was really not that big of a deal. Los Angeles gang members would roll all around, acting tough and posturing, while these guys were already used to killing people and not even blinking an eye. It’s no wonder that they soon became one of the scariest gangs in the history of the world.



9. MS-13’s Organizational Structure Makes It Impossible To Destroy

The smallest unit of MS-13 is a clique, based in a single neighborhood, that carries out day-to-day operations. Many cliques have many different hustles, anything from extortion to money laundering to armed robbery to prostitution. The clique is run by the “Palabrero,” or man with the word, followed by his second-in-command, or “Segundo.” No matter what state or country they operate in, all cliques answer to leadership in El Salvador, known as the “Council of Nine.” The Palabrero’s job is to make sure that the clique is following the wishes of the leadership in El Salvador. It doesn’t matter how many gang leaders U.S. law enforcement arrests, or how many cliques they disrupt, this de-centralized hierarchy allows MS-13 to be resilient.



10. They Focus On Human Trafficking

While they do a lot of dabbling in drugs, most of that is street level stuff. Where they really make a lot of their coin is through human trafficking as well as prostitution. They either recruit young female immigrants or runaways, or they just ship some women in from Central America and make them work for them as prostitutes. Nice guys, huh? While it may seem to be a lot of work, the whole thing is actually some pretty easy money for them. They spend nothing because they bring the girls in for free and pretty much keep them as slaves, so they have an enormous profit margin. While a lot of people don’t think that human trafficking is something that goes on very often, the reality of the situation is quite different.



11. They Made El Salvador the Murder Capital Of The World

Violence is what MS-13 is all about. People simply do not mess with them. As previously stated, they go by “mata, viola, controla” or, kill, rape, control. They don’t roll around with guns shooting at people from cars; they get out of the car, walk towards you, and hack you down with a machete. This is meant to be personal, and also, machetes cost way less than guns. There’s another gang in El Salvador called Barrio 18, and between the two gangs, they made El Salvador the murder capital of the world. Some people think that things are violent in the United States — while that may be true, the homicide rate in El Salvador is 22 times what the murder rate is in the United States. This is truly terrifying to think about.



12. MS-13 Members Openly Worship Satan


One of MS-13’s more terrifying tendencies is devil worship. The case of a girl killed by MS-13 members in Long Island reveals that she was murdered as an “offering” to a statue of Satan. The gang members were captured by police and admitted that they had sacrificed the girl to appease Satan. The autopsy revealed that the girl was not only killed, but also viciously mutilated and raped. In another incident, gang members kidnapped a girl and abused her over the course of three days. The girl, thinking on her feet, managed to escape, but not before irreparable mental and physical harm. The girl will never forget her experience because her kidnappers left her with a tattooed image of the Grim Reaper from her knee to her ankle.


13. MS-13 Throws Parties To Lure Young Potential Members Away From High School

MS-13 can only exist and grow as long as it has young members ready to fill its ranks and replace fallen homies. MS-13 cliques attract young men and women by throwing “skip parties,” where they invite high school students to skip school and party with the gang instead. The parties offer women, alcohol, and drugs and stand in stark contrast to a boring day of high school. MS-13 masterfully markets itself to kids as a group to be admired and respected. A teenager’s innocent desire to be cool and party can quickly spiral into something much darker as MS-13 creates stronger bonds between the teen and the gang. Oftentimes the friendships and connections formed during and after these parties can turn a kid, who is having trouble with school or family, towards a life of violence.



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