The Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, street gang has made headlines for years carrying out murders, assaults, rapes, robberies, and now, according to local law enforcement officials, for running an underage prostitution ring in the D.C. area.
Here‘s what you need to know about the gang whose motto — “rape, control, kill” — has created fear in Washington and nationwide.
— Mara Salvatrucha means “Salvadorian gang” and was formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s by immigrants from war-torn El Salvador.
— The “13” is believed by experts to come from the 13th letter of the alphabet: M for “Mara.”
— MS-13 is made up of “cliques” with names such as the Sailors, Normandy, Peajes, Uniones and Fultons.
— They work through a partnership called “La Hermandad,” or “the Brotherhood”across the District, Maryland and Virginia.
— The gang spread beyond Los Angeles and California in response to anti-gang efforts and a demand for low-skilled workers across America. Many relocated to the Washington area, including Northern Virginia.
— MS-13 is believed to have between 1,500 and 3,000 members.
— Many are between 16 and 18 years old.
— Locally, the gang has been linked to shootings, baseball bat beatings, the stabbing of a pregnant teenager who was a federal witness, and the removal of four fingers from a 16-year-old boy’s hands using a machete.
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