Most if not all have heard of gangs and their crimes that range from petty to heinous and in the past, Orange Walk residents have been privy to some of these at the hands of gangs. But what happens when gang members from other much more organized groups enter Belize and how do we know where they are and who they are? Viewers may have seen gang insignias around town but often pay no heed as news of their criminal activity in the district is relatively low to non-existent.
Following the information we have received, we thought it would only be appropriate to share the following information with the viewing public and raise the awareness of how serious and how dangerous some of these international gangs are and how close they are.
Dalila Ical- Reporting
Gang activity in Orange Walk Town is relatively low but the gang tagging seems to be popping up more frequently in all corners of the town.
Among the most popular being the Trial Farm Crips also represented as 30’ and Trial Farm Bloods also represented as 20’s. Also visible in town are the LA tags in the Louisiana Area and the Baka Town Crips also from that side.
These are all gangs believed to be organized by Belizeans. Then there are these…..tags from the MS 13, or the Mara Salvatrucha Trece.
This is the focus of our story – the MS 13.
Mara Salvatrucha Trece or MS 13 is a slang for Salvadoran Army ants. If you haven’t heard of them, they are considered the most violent gang in America with ten thousand foot soldiers across 33 states in the United States.
They are going global and records show that police in at least six countries are trying to break them down but just like the army ants, their violence continue to prevail.
Their growth is fueled by migration across the western hemisphere and they are now present in El Salvador, Canada, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. Their numbers is expected to be between fifty and a hundred thousand worldwide.
Rodrigo Avila – Vice-Minister of Security, El Salvador
“It’s like a virus really it’s something that is spreading out.”
It gets more serious; their graffiti has appeared as far north as Alaska and as far as Spain, becoming an international menace.
How did it all start? International documentaries made on the gang indicate that it started in the streets of neighborhoods in Los Angeles USA. Salvadoran families who fled the civil war in their country to the US headed to LA. Once there though, they faced alienation, class distinctions and racism from Mexican and African American citizens who often terrorized newcomers. Salvadoran youth retaliated by forming their own cliques and called themselves the MS 13. Soon, it got violent and the violence reflected the kind that was seen in the civil war.
“This is violence that they have seen through the war, this is violence they saw of families being killed and decapitated. We have never seen that type of violence here in Los Angeles in a gang, I was literally scared.”
Just to become a member you have to endure a pounding for thirteen seconds. (9:42 – initiation pounding) and eventually your loyalty is tested by gang leaders.
“You gotta shoot at people, you gotta kill people.”
Drugs are also involved and this is how the gang sustains itself, according to some members.
Snoopy – MS 13 member
“We have an infinite number of cliques and each clique has its own spokesman and we have meetings and we decided on things.”
Once in, the only way out is dead. Leaders of some cliques are in prison but it is believed that one man calling the shots remains free, but authorities cannot prove this.
The MS 13 are real as is their capability to kill in cold blood. Years ago one of their members became informant and she was eventually executed but not before leaving a message.
Brenda Paz – murdered member
“It will get worse; all I can say is that it will get worse because it will get more structured.”
And other members who have chosen to leave have one message for anyone thinking of joining the gang.
“All I can say to young people is to don’t get caught up in the world of gangs especially those who think there is something good in it, it is all lies.”
The MS 13 is undoubtedly one of the most violent gangs. There are also the Three Kings also represented as 18’s. A graffiti we found here in Orange Walk shows members of this gang tagging over the MS 13. This is considered an invasion of territory that is enough reason to rage violence between both gangs. Orange Walk Police intelligence says however, that while the graffiti is visible, their activity, at least here in Orange Walk Town is practically non-existent. The question is, for how long.
The MS 13 is notorious for merciless revenge, cruel executions, drug activity, extortions and even child prostitution. Many Mara Salvatrucha members cover themselves in tattoos. Common markings include "MS", "Salvatrucha", the "Devil Horns", the name of their clique, and other symbols.
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