Teens in East Los Angeles were adopting hip hop culture. The underground urban movement was based on small groups of teens who formed crews to rap, spray paint graffiti and break dance together. They gave each other short nicknames. Baggy jeans, oversized jerseys and baseball caps were part of
In the 1980s, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras were countries in turmoil due to a conflict between leftist guerrillas leaning toward communism and the U.S-backed political right. Salvadoran families left everything behind to flee from the terror of the civil war’s atrocities – rapes, tortures, the use of machetes to decapitate bodies and massacres with high-power weaponry. . .Immigration authorities only granted political asylum to a few. Children learned English faster than their parents, who faced discrimination and low wages. As poor migrant teens in Los Angeles, they were caught again in a conflict. There was a gang war between African Americans and Mexicans.
A group of Salvadorans formed the Mara Salvatrucha crew for protection. They named it after the Marabuntas, ferocious army ants that are social hunters. The ants do not construct permanent nests. Instead, the colony moves incessantly. The “trucha” or trout is a freshwater fish. In El Salvador, a “trucha” was slang for a quick and sharp lookout usually assigned to stand at a river crossing.
In the 1990s
The violence between African Americans and MS escalated. The crew, which had grown into a gang, aligned with the Mexican Mafia gang. The Mexican’s “Sureño” group included the Southern from Hondurans, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans.
The MS-13 gang leaders are known as “palabreros.” The gang has middle-men that connect “cliques” to the Los Angeles. The gang divides into “cliques” – the groups that control MS-13 territory in countries, states, cities and neighborhoods. Each group has a first in command known as the “primera palabra” and a second in command known as the “segunda palabra.” The groups serve different purposes in different territories.
At the bottom are the new recruits. In Honduras, they are as young as 7-years-old. They are often the sons and daughters of U.S. undocumented migrant workers. The children find a family unit in the gangs that promise to take care of them, protect them and help them with problems. The induction is a 13-second beating. They learn the gang's culture and language. Tattoos express membership and accomplishments. For instance, a tear drop is a murder and a star is a police officer's murder. As members are killed or end up in prison, the young ones take their place. . .
Source: Local 10