Who are MS-13?

MS-13 are known as one of the largest and most vicious gangs in the world.

But how much do we know about them? Here's everything you need to know.

Who are MS-13?

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) originated in Los Angeles, California, in the 1970s.

The gang's initial purpose was to protect immigrants from El Salvador from other gangs in the area.

The MS stands for Mara Salvatrucha, said to be a combination of Mara, meaning gang, Salva, for Salvador, and trucha, which translates roughly into street smarts.

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The 13 represents the position of M in the alphabet.

Since then MS-13 have grown significantly and now boast a reported 50,000 members worldwide.

According to FBI statistics, there are between 6,000 and 10,000 members across the US alone.

The brutal gang have established a reputation for extreme violence and for killing with machetes. Here are some high profile cases.

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The Little Devil

Leniz "Diablita" Escobar, known as "The Little Devil" has been accused of luring four men to grisly machete murders.

The 22-year-old reportedly licked blood off her lips after the vicious executions where MS-13 gangsters ambushed the young men in a park in New York.

The victims had allegedly "mocked" the gangs symbols, one man managed to escape and alerted the authorities.

Torture and rape of 14-year-old girl

In 2017, two MS-13 gang members tortured and raped a teenage girl and killed another woman as sacrifice to the “Beast” in Satanic ritual’.

The second victim was shot to death on the side of the road.

Group leader Miguel Alvarez-Flores, 22, aka “Diabolico” and Diego Hernandez-Rivera, 18 laughed in court during the trial of their heinous crimes.

What are MS-13 initiations?

Back in 2016, an FBI task force were able to record and videotape MS-13's initiation rituals according to a detention affidavit.

One initiation demands prospective members "must commit at least one murder of a rival gang member” for the gang.

Once voted in by members of a clique, leaders would slowly count to 13 while gang members beat the prospective member.

"Afterward, members would say ‘welcome to the Mara’ and hold up the devil horn hand signs,” according to the affidavit.

Although not strictly a specific initiation, members commonly cover themselves in tattoos.

Large chest tattoos brand members for life while others get inked on their faces.

However, they are said to be moving away from face tattoos to make it easier to go under the cops radar.

Where are MS-13?

MS-13 now have nearly 50,000 members worldwide having grown massively.

The gang is said to be involved in drugs, human trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping and robbery across the US, Canada, Mexico and Central America.

In 2012, the US Treasury designated the gang a "transnational criminal organisation".

Who is the leader of MS-13?

The gang's top leadership reportedly operate out of El Salvador, some of whom are in jail.

There is different leadership for those in different areas outside of El Salvador.

MS-13 is organized by subsets known as “cliques,” and each clique typically has one or more leaders, commonly referred to as “shot callers.” 

For example, Yulon Adonay Archaga Carias is the alleged leader of MS-13 for all of Honduras.

He was put on the FBI's list of Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives in November 2021.

Meanwhile, former leader Miguel Angel Corea Diaz , 41, was sentenced to life in prison last Friday.

Known as the 'Reaper,' Díaz was one of the top leaders of the MS-13 along the East Coast

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