PSEUDONYMNS: Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13
HISTORY: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a Hispanic, Central American gang, is believed to have formed in the Rampart area of Los Angeles during the mid-late 1980s. Immigrants, fleeing war-torn El Salvador, settled into the Hispanic communities of Los Angeles and formed MS as a method of protection from other Hispanic gangs, particularly the 18th Street Gang. The 13 was added to the name later to show their alliance to the prison gang La Eme (Mexican Mafia). In the early 1990s, law enforcement agencies began to target the Hispanic community’s violent areas and began deporting MS-13 members who were living in the United States illegally. These deported members established their own local cliques and continued their gang activities in El Salvador. These cliques spread into other areas of Central America, Mexico, and throughout the United States. The gang has become recognized for their violent activity, and their ability to adapt to new areas and law enforcement efforts.
MEMBERSHIP: Initially, all members of MS-13 were El Salvadoran Nationals, but the gang is now known to accept individuals that simply share the Hispanic heritage and culture. While there is no identified international or national leadership, there is a hierarchy within individual cliques based on "member status". Members who joined the gang in Los Angeles, or who have performed and earned a reputation within the gang, receive a higher status. The title of leader (also called "shot-caller" or "ranflero") is determined within the cliques.
LOCATIONS: The gang has been identified in 33 States and the District of Columbia, as well as El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Canada.