Bloods, Crips, Folk, Vice Lords, Latin Kings
are names that often cause alarm and fear
among the gentle people of
America. Now a gang is emerging on the scene that causes members of
these notorious gangs to fear or at least have second thoughts about
venturing onto the wrong street. La Mara Salvatrucha is a well
organized and very violent, very brutal gang born in El Salvador. It
is more commonly known as MS-13.
As with all “outlaw”
gangs, MS 13 is involved in crimes: robbery, murder, drugs, rape,
prostitution and so on. The biggest difference with gang is ;
A pregnant 17-year old girl
(above), was killed by her MS-13 friend for being a police
their willingness—eagerness—to use overt
violence to punctuate their activities,
their paramilitary type structure and
order that comes from years of civil wars and insurgencies in Central
concern that MS-13 could form an alliance with al-Qaida and help
terrorists gain illegal entry into the United States. Note:
The FBI has investigated rumors of such links.
principle weapon is the machete, a large knife designed for crops but
in the hands of the MS 13’s a weapon of terror.
MS 13 first arrived in the USA in California in
the 1980’s. That state continues to have the largest concentration of
members. However, recently the gang has experienced a growth spurt
making it the fastest growing gang in America both in numbers and
territory. Virginia, South Carolina, Maryland and other eastern states
are now experiencing the impact of this gang. Pennsylvania has
mobilized a training team to spread the word across that state. As
they say, “…not to frighten, but to raise awareness.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the FBI have taken note of
this gang have issued advisory memos to their personnel to be
cautious. The Border Patrol has been directly targeted by this gang
because they slowed down the “people smuggling” along the US/Mexican
border that is one of their primary money making ventures. (ICE
Map of gang arrests since Feb. 2005)
How big is the problem? Different law
enforcement agencies have estimated that MS 13 is operating in at
least 33 states with 30,000 or more members. But that number changes
daily as they are the fastest spreading gang ever tracked.
prosecutor in Prince George's County, said more needs to
be done to counter heavy recruiting by MS-13. "There's
been a big hole there that we're trying to fill."
What does this mean to schools? One expert
on MS 13 has said that the scariest element of this gang is the young
people, mostly Middle School age and up. They are attracted to this
gang and join to fulfill a sense of belonging. They are willing to go
through a brutal beating as initiation, then they are eager to prove
themselves by showing how brutal they can be during gang activities.
The next scariest group is the “wannabees” or those who are too young,
maybe 8 years old, who are not ready for the gang but want to show
that they are worthy. With the poor impulse control of youth and often
a shallow well of values, these extremely young people do some
extremely violent things to other people.
Is MS 13 a male only gang?
No. Girls join as well and often more vicious than the males. Girls
occasionally go through the same beating initiation as the males but
they are “sexed in” which pretty descriptive of the actual event.
How do you recognize this gang? MS 13 is
the short or street name for this group. It is also their principle
tag, that is, what they use to mark territory or send threats. Their
colors are blue and white taken from the flag of El Salvador. Most
members tend to have elaborate body art or tattoos.
How wide spread is this group?
In 33 of
the 50 states MS 13 is known to operate. They
generally infiltrate the
Hispanic community and prey upon its members until they consolidate
and base for spreading out. MS 13 is unique in that it is
multinational. That is to say that its member travel from the USA back
to and through various Central American countries. Sometimes by choice
and sometimes through deportation.
What actions can schools take? First and
always, be aware. It is common to take the path of “not seeing means
it’s not there.” With the spreading of this gang and the unprecedented
growth of its numbers, it is very likely in your school to some degree
now. The solutions is the same as with other gangs but should be made
a matter of policy and training. Young people are drawn into this
gang for a sense of belonging, the hope finding unconditional love
(this is very distorted) and
a desire for structure "Street
Gangs in School". Schools can provide these as preventive
and redemption matters at all grade levels.
Belonging: Every student needs to
belong to the school, the class, the club, the team, etc. If the
school does not provide a guided set of choices for belonging, the
students will find their own. These are usually negative.
See article on
Unconditional Love: Next, the
school should insure that students feel loved without condition.
There will always be transgressions and consequences should follow
(they do within the gang) but being kicked out is not an option. “We
don’t want your kind around here,” is the message received by some
students every day. Most often the message comes from fellow
students but more and more it comes from staff and administration.
Both groups need training in how to hold standards without
eliminating the person.
Bullying Stops when
Structure: And finally, students
need structure. Structure is security at the base level. It allows
one to always know what to expect and what is expected. Freedom is a
wonderful thing, but it must be experienced from a framework of
structure to be truly enjoyed.
Lock Out Violence Everyday (L.O.V.E.)
If you are not sure if your school has a gang
problem or if you are not sure your school has adequate training in
gang prevention and intervention, contact
Keys To Safer Schools.com
today for assistance from the
Multi-disciplinary Team or take our
Free MS-13 Webinar (online training).
Keys To Safer Schools.com can provide
the training to your school to establish programs such as:
you have any comments or questions please Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.