A Mara Salvatruchapopularly known as MS-13is a gang formed mainly by Salvadorans spread throughout the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and several other countries throughout the Americas, with an average of 70,000 men. There are even indications that there are also branches in Canada and Spain.
The ?mara? ? meaning ?gang? ? began in Los Angeles, the initial destination of most of the immigrants who left El Salvador in the early 1980s, fleeing the country's Civil War between the leftist guerrillas and the military government. These ?salvatruchas? ? a nickname for Salvadorans ? were harassed by the groups already established in the region. These young men decided to form their own gang. After some time, MS-13 began to turn on rival maras, mainly the Mexican Mara 18, and automatically turned to crime, which caused the U.S. government to deport the most dangerous members. However, all this effort was of no use to them, as the deported members formed a sort of El Salvador-US air-bridge - just the gap the organization needed to branch out its activities and extend its tentacles throughout Central America.
Since then, the members of the ?mara? live inside this mafia without the slightest concern. That is, they don't care if they are helping to dissolve it or if they are adding fuel to the fire. There are stories that report file burning of deserters, cruel rituals of admission and, of course, the somewhat clear condition of their initialization with tattoos and symbols - usually the "horn" with the hand and the tattoos ? only reinforce the image of the ultra-close tribe. Within these ?symbols? there are some that have emphasis. For example: the tear tattooed under the eye is related to the member's behavior in prison. It is said that it is tattooed to indicate that the ?salvatrucha? has killed an enemy or lost a loved one. The letter ?M? and ?S? printed on the skin, usually in gothic characters, leave no doubt: the prisoner who carries it is part of the Mara Salvatrucha, popularly known as MS-13, one of the most violent and lethal gangs on the planet. Remembering that, to possess such a tattooThe gang member must kill a member of a rival Mara. It is common to see gang members with tattoos on their face, neck and hands. Places that are difficult to be dressed up. Usually tattoos from criminal organizations tend to be more discreet or possible to hide, aiming at the possibility of the individual not being easily recognized and going unnoticed. Thus facilitating their criminal activities.
As is the case with Yakuzawho tattoo their entire body, but traditionally these tattoos cannot extend beyond the wrist, ankle and neck of the gangster. Tattooing the face was common among the Maori as proof of courage, a reason for pride, and proof of their position in the social hierarchy, and these bodily inscriptions were only allowed for free and noble men. In the Maras, these characteristics of courage and pride are also noted, as well as a sense of personal/collective identity. By tattooing his own face with the symbols of his gang, the young man demonstrates his bravery and his desire to belong to the ?family? (as they call themselves) by permanently assuming the identity of the group. Giving up the most notable physical characteristics regarding individuality and identity to carry the marks of his gang in the most visible place of the body ?los maras? demonstrate conviction and a strong commitment to the group, besides the meaning of bravery for having gone through a painful ritual with consequences for the rest of his life.
O number 13 also carries a meaning, only closer to the violence of the gang. The number is related both to the age at which a young man can become a member of the Mara, and to the 13 seconds of beatings to start the MS-13. Similar to the procedure also adopted by the 18 Street Gang.
In 2005, some rumors surfaced that Al-Qaeda was meeting with MS-13 and other Central American groups to help infiltrate the United States. FBI Agent Robert Clifford informed the intelligence community and the governments of several Central American countries that there was no concrete basis to believe that MS-13 was connected to Al-Qaeda or other Islamic radicals. However, so far, nothing has been confirmed. We can only await the next chapters of the "Salvadorans.