My apologies in advance for the nature of today's topic. It's not warm and fuzzy, per se, but it IS necessary and covers a topic that I have yet to see explored in detail on any of the other prepping/survivalist/homesteading sites. So take a deep breath and plow through. Let's talk reality for just a moment.
With all that is going on in your life, why should you be better informed of a gang of illegal immigrant rebels? Because they are a realistic face of the harm which threatens your life, even your everyday life. They are not an obscure gang. In fact, the FBI defines them as the most organized crime entity in the U.S. They are feared not solely because of their horrific violent acts, but due to their organization. They specifically target middle and high school students for recruitments. They have no compunction of committing violent acts upon their fellow citizens, as they have no fear of repercussions. Their criminal acts focus on human and drug trafficking, and contract killing combined with unspeakable violence. A crime will never be committed by one of these members without it being accompanied by a beating, rape, murder, or dismemberment, or all of the above. They also have known ties and alliances to Al-Queda in recent years and are suspected of performing duties as an extension of this and other terrorist organizations. Oh, and they aren't just some “loosey goosey” gang. They are HIGHLY militarized, organized, and most of all, violent.
Who are they and why should you care? They are MS-13, otherwise known as Mara Salvatrucha. And yes, they have invaded your community. Visual evidence of such will be manifested by graffiti in your area that says “MS,” “Mara,” or “MS-13” (though there are many rival gangs that post the MS-13 graffiti with the intent to stir up fear in their communities. The MS-13 are identified by their numerous tattoos on their bodies and faces. They wear blue and white colors taken from the El Salvadoran flag. For nearly a decade they have been at the top of the FBI’s most wanted list. Their activities are believed to be responsible for making Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras (aka Northern Triangle) the most violent place in the world that is not at war. In October 2012, the US Department of the Treasury labeled the group a "transnational criminal organization," the first such designation for a US street gang. (see: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/5/treasury-department-sanctions-top-members-ms-13/ ) Their organization is considered to be the fastest-growing and most violent of the nation's street gangs.
Their violent organized traits stem from the fact that the majority of their founders are well trained in guerilla warfare in El Salvador. As such they possess a level of methodical training and a skill set that rival any other gang. The process of initiation is bloodcurdling. After enduring a slow, verbal 13 count beating by the other gang members simultaneously (at a minimum), the inductee must then commit a violent act consisting of either a brutal beating, rape, or even murder prior to being accepted and they must accomplish this act within 13 hours. (During the 13 count beating, the inductee is NOT permitted to shield or defend themselves whatsoever, under penalty of death. ) If they fail in their efforts within 13 hours, then they risk being brutally murdered themselves in order that the “strength” of MS-13 does not get watered-down by “incompetents.” On November 26, 2008, Jonathan Retana was convicted of the murder of Miguel Angel Deras, which the authorities linked to an MS-13 initiation. If you are a female MS-13 inductee, the right of passage would include an obligatory gang rape. They shamelessly recruit inductees as young as middle school age!
The more violent an MS-13 member is, the more elevated they are among their “military” crime group. One MS-13 member claimed the following during FBI questioning: “The crazier you are known to be, the more respect the gang gives you.”
As further evidence of their organization skills, there is a unique communication which takes place among them. Gang "signs" are used by MS-13 including the infamous "devil horns" sign which gang members "throw" to signify their ownership of their turf. The devil horn sign, when turned upside down, forms the letter "M". Members also use multiple hand signals to communicate. Known as "stacking", these signs can be used to indicate their clique or to coordinate an attack. Pulling up on the shoulders of the shirt indicates an imminent attack while rubbing the belly indicates a shooting. A brush on the left shoulder indicates a stabbing attack.
One of the defining factors of MS-13 is their absolute intolerance for anyone who informs the police of their activities. As an example, I came across court records in Nassau County, NY which detailed a recorded telephone conversation where an MS-13 member bragged how he had put a stop to an informant - "I put one in the chest and three in the head."
Once a member is brought into the gang, they are in for life. They cannot act without the boss's consent. Every act is highly orchestrated. It is suspected that this is part of the allure of the gang—they are told what to do every step of the way. They cannot kill without reason, cannot even speak to the police, skip gang meetings, nor can they leave the gang--alive. MS-13 has no tolerance for gang members who drop out. An MS-13 member, and even their family members, must die in order to exit MS-13, no exceptions. On May 13, 2006, Ernesto "Smokey" Miranda, an ex-high ranking soldier and one of the founders of the Mara Salvatrucha, was murdered at his home in El Salvador a few hours after declining to attend a party for a gang member who had just been released from prison. Not only had he offended his “brothers” for not attending the party, but he had threatened dissent by studying law and working to keep children out of gangs..
The majority of these gang members are in the country illegally. As such they are deported regularly. Going along with the fact that MS-13 members can’t simply get out, the much reported incident of Edward Guzman, a 14 year old MS-13 member, illustrates the more significant punishment of deportation. Guzman left Guatemala to escape the gang lifestyle. He had illegally come to the U.S. originally as a teenager. At the age of 16, on March 10, 2004, he was deported back to his home. He hid in his home for several days. His first day to venture out was March 20, 2004. He made it only 5 blocks where he was shot multiple times. MS-13 grudges never die.
Wikipedia mistakenly states that this gang originated in Los Angeles. (yet one more reason why I don’t permit Wikipedia resources on our site.) In fact, they originated in El Salvador and were the largest formalized gang there. During a nationwide war, many military members fled the war and settled in Los Angeles in which they decided to take over many of the criminal activities of the already rampant gang structure, in a parasitic nature. After establishing themselves in the U.S., they began to take in Hondurans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans. Today, their desired “market” ambitions for inductees have expanded their acceptance to any Central American individual who can suitably pass their initiation and subsequent performance requirements.
Their targets are indiscriminate so long as they can wreak horror and obedience to their reign in their communities. Case in point, in the minds of an MS-13 member the term “road rage” means nothing to them. It is their road, and they allow you to drive on it. Obstruction of their declared road usage is grounds for death in their minds. On June 22, 2008, in San Francisco, CA, a 21-year old MS-13 gang member, Edwin Ramos, shot and killed a father, Anthony Bologna, 48, and his two sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, after their car briefly blocked Ramos from completing a left turn down a narrow street.
In spite of their cache of firearms, MS-13 members are adept in the use of a machete. It’s part of their signature brutality and is used to sever limbs. Keep in mind that a distance of less than 30 feet between you and an assailant can be cleared faster than a person is able to draw, point, and shoot a firearm. If you’ve got less than 30 feet between you and a charging MS-13 member, the person charging will win, so your first defensive response needs to result in creating more distance.
Surprisingly, they are not just a gang intent on crimes for tangible gains. They have their hands in just about every imaginable underworld crime. They are actually highly focused on gaining political power. As part of this effort, they have organized to focus on eliminating border patrol guards along the Arizona border as it interferes with their money-making activities. (see:http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/mar/28/20050328-125306-7868r/ and http://www.dailybulletin.com/news/ci_3386933 ) In Honduras, MS-13 kidnapped the son of Honduran President Ricardo Maduro, from his home. After torturing him, they executed him. That was back in 1997. Their efforts today make their acts in the 1990’s look restrained in comparison. All over Central America, their acts of death and defiance are intended to taunt government officials. As another example, members left a dismembered corpse with a note for the Honduran president that “more people will die… the next victims will be police and journalists.” In 2004, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger received a similar message from MS-13 members attached to the body of a dismembered man. This gang operates with no fear of government reprisals. Since they were able to sufficiently overcome any such consequences with their own Salvadoran government, any country, state, and community that they enter, they do so with the same haughty view of the Law's ability to deliver suitable consequences. They do not fear a prison sentence. Rather they return to their gangs upon release as an elevated veteran. They are uninhibited in the horror of their criminal acts.
They have permeated every state in the U.S. sufficiently. Even our nation’s capital holds no borders for them; in fact, they flaunt the fact that they are the strongest gang in the D.C. area. In northern Virginia and southern Maryland, around the Washington DC area, local authorities estimate MS-13 membership to be between 5,000 and 6,000 members. (You might be surprised to note that it is reported to have the strongest number of MS-13 members in a single city.) In July of 2003, the Washington DC area encountered three known murders attributed to MS-13. The first was the murder of a federal informant. The second was the shooting death of a 17 year old boy. The third was the death of a 16 year old boy who had both of his hands completely chopped off. They have permeated every state now including Alaska, Hawaii, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Utah. They also have large forces in other nations including Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador. It is estimated that there are over 250,000 MS-13 members in Central America alone and as many as 50,000 members in the U.S.—though this number is believed by some gang violence experts to be understated due to their influence over many sub-gang organizations.
In Dec. of 2004 in Honduras, a local MS-13 chapter stopped a traveling bus mostly filled with women and children and sprayed it with automatic gunfire. No robbery was attempted; no rape or kidnapping; simply murder and mayhem which resulted in the death of 28. Their motive was to cause horror in the government as indicated by a note left behind promising the government that more killings of this nature would take place.
So why should YOU be concerned about them? Because it’s so easy for us to focus primarily on a potential disaster or crisis in our preparedness efforts and forget that a society down scenario is likely to create even more serious scenarios for which we need to plan now to protect ourselves. Sure, we’re likely to endure an earthquake, but are we likely to endure the MS-13 members who are able to escape the prison as a result of that same earthquake? One of my law enforcement contacts informed me last week that the recent government shutdown was anticipated to bring on more gang violence if it wasn’t ended soon. Yes, as horrible as it is to conceive of, MS-13 and other gangs who strive to imitate them are indeed one more aspect of a potential emergency situation, that needs to be acknowledged and properly prepared for—mentally as well as logistically speaking. We cannot afford to underestimate their violence. Sure, we can hope that an earthquake would take some of them down to the depths of the earth, but we also need to fortify our Spiritual and Mental Preparedness in acknowledging the possibility of such an encounter. We need not dwell on the “what ifs” of this presence, but certainly acknowledge the possibility in our efforts because no matter how sweet and kind hearted you are, you will not be able to reason with them; you will not be able to give them what they want and have them simply go away. Horrific violence is at their very core. You will need to be mindful of them and plan now to defend yourself appropriately so that you can have peace in the midst of a crisis, knowing that we’ve done all we can on our part to be ready. Being aware is always the first step of being prepared.