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Juvenile urban street gang (MS 13) Essay


A gang involves a group of different friends or even a family with an identifiable leadership and also an internal organization. Therefore, in most cases, I gang tend to claim or identify with control over a particular territory in their society. As a result, a gang will engage either collectively or individually I specific illegal and violent behaviors. In some case, individuals in these groups tend to jump in by going through particular process liked to initiations-like ideas or even required to prove their loyalty and the rights to remain in these groups through participating in specific acts that are usually violent or criminal-related.

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This gang originated from Los Angele s in the 1980s when it was under the Salvadoran immigrants in the city’s Pico-union neighborhood. These immigrants immigrated to the United States as the end of the civil wars of the 1980s fought in the Central America.

Initially, the primary aim of the gang was to offer the Salvadoran immigrants protections from their enemies (Van Gemert, Peterson & Lien, 2008). As a result, there was a rise in the number of established groups of Los Angeles who were mainly predominantly composed of both African-Americans and also Mexicans. With their significant and adverse effects of their activities, most of their members have been arrested and deported. For example, Jose Abrego who is one of the highest ranked members was deported four different times after being arrested. Dues to this arrest and deportations, MS-13 gang recruits more new member to their group in their home countries and towns. As a result, the removal is a contributing factor for the increase in the size of this gang organization. Other than that, it also influences this gang in both the United States and even the Central America. In regard, the National Gang Threat Assessments, their group was estimated to have an approximately thirty thousand to fifty thousand gang members and different associates among who eight to ten thousand of this member were not residing the united states.

Form the first decade in the 21st century; they gang was seen to be expanding its numbers in the Washington D.C. areas. Some of the most affected regions include Maryland, Takoma Park and also Langley Park. In the year 2004, FBI from the United States of America went ahead for steps that would significantly help in fighting to reduces and finish this gang. As a result, they formed the MS-13 National Gang Task Force. Other than that, they also involved other law enforcement organizations in different states like Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and even Guatemala.

In 2005, the office of the United States immigration and customs enforcement went ahead and started a program that was known as Operation Community Shield. This program was active as by the year 2011; it had made over twenty thousand arrests among whom more than three thousand were alleged members of the MS-13 gang (Van Gemert, Peterson & Lien, 2008). Between January 2016 and April 2016, this group is held capable of murdering of more than seven individuals in Long Island alone. July 28 of 2017 after an arrest of one hundred and thirteen suspects MS-13 individuals, then president, Donald Trump declared a goal of eradicating these gang members while referring to them as animals. Their victims were believed to be dying as it was more painful for them.

Geography and location

MS-13 is one of the usual juvenile urban gang. Mara Salvatrucha, in full is an international criminal gang with its origin in Los Angeles, California. Its origin can be dated back to the 1980s (Seelke, 2011). As time went by, this gang continued to spread in different parts of the United States, Mexico, Canada and also Central America. Its effects are active not only in urban areas but even in rural areas. Ethnically, most of their members have their origins in the Central America regions. In the United States MS-13 are heavily present in Boston, Washington D.C. metropolitan area, North Carolina, California, New York City and lastly New Jersey.

Characteristics and leadership

All members that belong to this gang are characterized by different tattoos that cover their body particularly their faces. Secondly, this gang has its developed sign languages. This gang has a hierarchy and also a code f conduct. But in a real sense, this gang is poorly organized. It has different cell across Mexico, the United States, and even Central America but without any recognized and respected leader. Their leaders who are known as the palabreros have control only over different cliques which are cells that operates just in a specified territory. As a result, each of their clubs is entailed to its leader and hierarchy.

In some case, a number of these cliques tend to be transitional as they can fight with others. Other than that, other could be more violent in their reputations. Others have control over smaller regions that have their treasures and different small and functionary positions. At its best potential, the leadership of the MS-13 gang can only have the power of the action of their cliques from a distance. This structure is therefore firm in a way that it makes the gang resistance to any trial of the government to crack it down in any case. With that, the organized gang becomes difficult to control and fight against their enemies.

Enemies and allies

MS-13 is not the only gang in Central America. It also has enemies and allies. Its main enemy is the Barrio 18 street gang with its extension having extended in the United States, Mexico, and even Central America. On the other hand, MS-13 seems to be forming allies with different groups like Zetas through acting as subcontractors for different Mexican Cartels. The MS-13 is therefore used in moving drugs and also engaging in various assassinations (Seelke, 2011). Other than that some videoed evidence also show evidence of them involved I relating with specific political movements to provide political support and in turn the gang gets economic benefits. For the prospects cases, a long-term involvement effect of this gang in El Salvador continues to unfold (Van Gemert, Peterson & Lien, 2008). On the other hand, MS-13 appears to be stronger thus remaining an influential source of insecurity for different citizens and also a potent force that effectively poses a lot of challenges to the Central American governments.

Recruitment and initiation

Any groups of a gang will a particular fellowship manner as a way in which they can bind with other different individuals how to share the same interest with them. In this case, those who are recruited to the MS-13 gang are offered with a chance to be part of their group thus able to gain a sense of belong that they might have lacked to ensure their life is complete in one way or another. MS-13 increases their power through the use of graffiti, signs and language, tattoos and also intimidation tactic which help the gang to recruit different new individuals.

Other than that, some of these juveniles that join this gang may be as a result of pressure where they can see the power involved in these youths while in schools. But there are some cases where a gang member may threaten another individual for either their family or friendship to join this band that are in turn offered protection from bullies or even other rival gangs. For other, they might be eager and thinking that it is enjoyable, fun and exciting to join the group and thus engaging in criminal activities.

Gender has a lot of influence among individual that are joining any gang in general. The percentage of a female gang member is far much lower than that of male individuals involved as a gangster. Secondly, age does not matter in gangs. In other words, a gang member is not also juvenile but also adults. As a result, a high percentage of a gang in MS-13 is over the age of eighteen.

Publicized crimes

The Central American population that is in North America is mainly the primary victim regarding the MS-13 gang individuals though most of the involved victims are minor in most cases. Betrayal is one of the factors that this gang doesn’t take quickly. In that, case Brenda Paz, one of the gang members was killed by stabbing to death in Virginia. The reason behind this case was because she had provided the FBI with information related to the Mara Salvatrucha’s criminal-related activities (Wolf, 2012). As a result, two of her former and close friends were also convicted of the murder. The FBI played an essential role if fighting against this gang. Generally, in 2004, they developed the MS-13 National Gang Task Force. Second, they also engaged in the creation of the National Gang Information Center thus outlined a National strategy for the gang that was useful for the Congress.

On 23rd December of the same year, 2004, one of the standard publicized MS-13 crime-related activities occurred in Chamelecon, Central America. An intercity bus was involved in this case through interception and therefore sprayed automatic gun riffles mainly from assault rifles. It, thus, resulted in pain and suffering as people involved in that case were mostly women and children leaving twenty-eight dead individuals and injuring fourteen more civilian passengers. This massacre aimed to protest against the Honduran government which has proposed death penalty in Honduran.

In 2007, Darwin Alexis Ramírez and Juan Carlos were found guilty of involving in murder and organized murders. In some case, some of those arrested were set free due to lack of sufficient evidence for their arguments.

Impacts and challenges related to Juvenile urban street gang (MS 13)

Most countries have a long history of gang-related influences. The same case applies to MS-13 where it poses a more significant challenge to not only the people but also a particular state and its government. In the 20th century, most criminal activities form this gang was petty. But with time, the MS-13 engages in more severe and significant crimes (Wolf, 2012). At some point, they engage in illegal trafficking of drugs and weapons for their benefits. Other than that, this gang, like any other tends to use intimidation methods of violence to pursue a particular goal that they are aiming at for their benefits.

Economically, the MS-13 gang will force the government to use excess capital to fight against their activities. As a result, the government is forced to engage in specific activities that require a lot of finance for the run smoothly. They are therefore affecting the economic performance of a particular state in one way or another. Poor economy performance results in the slow and weak development of the country. They pose a significant challenge of insecurity to the country, resulting in death, destruction of properties and also injuring of innocent individuals.

Although in most cases these gangs are considered as criminal, they at times serve as a present a particular appeal for sure youth. In some cases, they serve as a family for each other especially for those children with dysfunctional families. There will, therefore, provide basic needs like shelter, clothing and most importantly emotional support. But in some case, some children may prefer to join this gang just to get protection from other groups.


Different government and security-related agencies have joined together to fight against this problem. They develop and agree on a useful program that will contribute to the power of these gangs. They arrest involved individuals thus showing a sense of trying to reduce their number and prevent any illegal activities that they may engage in at any given time. It has resulted efficiently to control of crimes in different parts of the world (Wolf, 2012). They pose a challenge and pressure against this gang to reduce their activities and ensure that people are safe in one way or another.

Conclusion and recommendations

There are a lot of consequences for those that engage in gang participation. For that that has successfully managed to get out of the gang, they have a lot of different and difficulty stories regarding the experience of being involved in gang-related activities. This group affects not only the community but also those that are involved both in a negative way in almost all the cases. Therefore, each is to be held responsible for control against any other gang-related organizations in our community. These gangs tend only to consider their interest rather than thinking what is best for each.

The government, on the other hand, should continue to work against any gang organization not only for the case of MS-13. There are a lot of different gangs that are also effective and powerful and thus have a lot of effect on the community in general. Other than that, districts should consider ways in which they would help young individuals to be satisfied with what they have and provide them with security to ensure that their rate of joining these gangs are reduced or avoided entirely. Young individuals are the targets so that they can participate this group in its continuity. As a result, control of the younger people in the society can be a useful and essential step that could e took to ensure that young people are not joining these gangs ant any case.


Seelke, C. R. (2011). Gangs in central America. Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America4(1), 67.

Van Gemert, F., Peterson, D., & Lien, I. L. (Eds.). (2008). Street gangs, migration and ethnicity. Routledge.Gangs and society: Alternative perspectives. Columbia University Press.

Wolf, S. (2012). Mara Salvatrucha: The Most Dangerous Street Gang in the Americas?. Latin American Politics and Society54(1), 65-99.

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