Mara Salvatrucha Gang in San Salvador

The Mara Salvatrucha gang is predominately made up of Salvadorans and originated in the Los Angeles area, not El Salvador, but the gang was later exported back to that country.

The group was started, in part, to protect themselves from the 18th Street gang. MS is also known as being very violent. Very few MS around today were ever in the Army as the Salvadoran “Civil War” started over 20 years ago and most MS are currently in their teens and would have been too young for that conflict.

Mara Salvatrucha Gang. (AP/Luis Romero)
Mara Salvatrucha gang member ‘Snare’, 19, poses for a photo inside the Tonacatepeque center for minors, some 10 miles north of San Salvador, September, 2004.

Many of their OG’s or Veteranos have been killed. MS will fight “Salvadorans With Pride” (SWP) and considers them their deadly enemy on the East Coast. Originally, many MS wore black for their “Santanas” roots and were known as “Stoners” and wore long hair.

At first, MS did their own thing, which is why many of the OG’s or Veteranos would just claim MS. Later, they fell under the Sureno umbrella, which is why you see many of the younger ones with MS13 and they started wearing blue and have more of a cholo look now. They may also wear light blue and white or beads from the colors of the Salvadoran flag.

Some people today mistakenly believe all Salvadoran gang members are from MS, and that Salvadorans cannot be from Mexican varrios. Many Salvadorans may even think that MS is all Salvadoran. This is false. Recently, we have seen Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and other Central Americans join MS, but not exclusively.

Central American kids may choose to join MS more than other varrios. It depends on if they feel Mexicans or Salvadorans have done something against them. They may join MS or may join other Latino gangs. When deported, the MS has continued its illegal activity in El Salvador, and later in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Several Central American governments have recently outlawed them and much violence has ensued.

The gang is active in Central America, the United States, Mexico and Canada. Since its inception in California and Washington, DC, Mara Salvatrucha members continues to plague many American cities including and even Vancouver, Canada.

Many MS members continue to have close connections with El Salvador.

Mara Salvatrucha gang members are known to be involved in all aspects of criminal activity. Because of their ties to their former homeland, they have access to sophisticated military weapons thus making firearms trafficking one of their main criminal enterprises. Other law enforcement agencies have reported MS members were exporting stolen cars to South America. As with nearly all street gangs, the MS is also involved in drug sales, murder and other common gang crimes.