MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha, an El-Salvador-based gang often linked to murder and violent crime, has flourished in the United States for decades. The MS-13 gang has a strong presence in California, New York, Florida, Washington DC, Maryland, North Carolina, and many major American cities, as well as Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, and Guatemala.
Fortunes are changing for the MS-13 gang, however. A recent nationwide gang crackdown is responsible for an 83 percent increase in arrests of alleged MS-13 gang members this year compared to previous years, according to the Washington Examiner. The crackdown has also revealed much about MS-13’s alleged gang recruitment and crimes, including murders reportedly committed by MS-13.
MS-13 is known to recruit children and teens. The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department told the Palm Beach Post elementary school children in the area are throwing gang signs. Early recruitment is part of the gang’s continued success in the United States. Arizona State University criminologist Jesenia Pizarro told Newsweek young immigrants usually join MS-13 for protection and to be part of a group.
“One is for protection, and the other is to be part of a group that values who they are.”
In addition, MS-13 pressures young people to join the gang and once joined, it is nearly impossible to leave MS-13. The same has been said of most other gangs reported to be involved in murder, robbery, drugs, guns, or human trafficking.
Most MS-13 gang members are kids, teens, and young adults in their early 20s. Teen immigrants from South America are especially at risk. Many of those alleged to be involved in the gang are from El Salvador.
The MS-13 gang is involved in serious crimes, including murder. Murder confessions like the ones reported from Lake Worth, Florida, reveal how these gang murders happen.
Six MS-13 gang members between the ages of 16 and 20 have confessed to two murders in Lake Worth, Florida, according to the Palm Beach Post. Edwin Manzanares, Jorge Santos-Cruz, Victor Hernandez Castro, Natividad Omar Umanzor Yanes, Víctor Fuentes, and Henry Cardoza have confessed to the murders of Lucio Velazquez-Morales and Octavio Sanches-Morales.
Murder confessions from these six MS-13 gang members reveal half a dozen gang members riding around in a stolen van, looking for people to rob. In the early morning hours, Edwin Manzanares, Jorge Santos-Cruz, Hernandez Castro, Natividad Omar Umanzor Yanes, Víctor Fuentes, and Henry Cardoza confessed they were cruising around in a stolen minivan looking for likely robbery victims when they came upon 33-year-old Lucio Velazquez-Moralez.
Jorge Santos-Cruz had been driving but told police he parked and cut off the headlights as MS-13 members poured out of the van toward Lucio Velazquez-Morales. Victor Fuentes held a gun to Velazquez-Morales head and ordered Umanzor Yanes to go through the victim’s pockets.
The situation escalated for the six MS-13 members when one of them shot the victim, Lucio Velazquez-Morales, in the leg. The younger MS-13 members ran back to the van, but Victor Fuentes said when he saw Lucio trying to limp away, a “demon” came up within him, and he shot Velazquez-Morales repeatedly as if his “finger was stuck.”
The same MS-13 crew spotted 25-year-old Octavio Sanches-Morales riding his bike only six days after the murder of Lucio Velazquez-Morales. The MS-13 gang members swarmed Octavio, robbing him. Moments later, Fuentes fatally shot yet another victim as he attempted to run away, according to the six murder confessions reported in the Palm Beach Post.
Another murder attributed to MS-13 was reported in Montgomery County, Maryland, by Fox News. Doris Giron-Jimenez and Albaro Rosa-Moreno, 24 and 22-years old respectively, were charged with first-degree murder on December 1. The two will join Miguel Angel Lopez-Abrego, aged 19, who is already facing first-degree murder charges. The three are accused of the murder of an unidentified Hispanic male last spring.
The murder victim was strangled and stabbed more than 100 times, and it is being alleged that purportedly full-fledged MS-13 members Doris Giron-Jimenez, and Albaro Rosa-Moreno are responsible for the brutal murder, along with Miguel Angel Lopez-Abrego. The unknown victim’s heart was ripped from his chest. He was found murdered and buried in a shallow grave this September.
MS-13 reportedly has a major stronghold in Long Island New York, but law enforcement has some good news. Fox News reports a foiled MS-13 kidnapping and murder plot. Police reportedly saved a 16-year-old male from what could have been yet another grisly murder.
Purported MS-13 gang members and associates Vidal Contrera-Ortiz, Miguel Rivera, Jorge Bermudez Cedillos, Lilliana Villanueva, and Oscar Fuentes, all between the ages of 17 and 20, were allegedly caught trying to coerce the 16-year-old into a van at Brentwood High School. All except Miguel Rivera attend Brentwood High School, according to Fox News. All have reportedly entered a plea of not guilty.
The MS-13 gang has been targeted by the United States government, and particularly ICE, for annihilation. ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan was quoted by Fox 5.
“We are not done and we will not be done until we totally dismantle this organization.”
ICE and many other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies will continue to target MS-13, disrupting MS-13 financial networks and members abroad as well as domestically. Thomas Homan explained after a successful strike on the MS-13 gang how serious law enforcement is about ending violent gang crimes.
“This successful operation continues our efforts to attack MS-13 – both domestically and abroad – disrupting their financial networks. MS-13 terrorizes communities through violent crime and extortion in furtherance of its mission to rape, control and kill.”
ICE and ERO are teaming with other law enforcement agencies to take down the entire illegal operation of MS-13. In addition, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is mentoring local students deemed to be at risk of joining MS-13. They are building trust and trying to prevent the spread of the MS-13 gang.
MS-13 is reportedly one of the most dangerous and violent gangs in America, but law enforcement is working hard now to end the gang’s violence and murder.