MS-13 Gang Violence
Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 are two of the American continent's most violent street gangs. The origins of these criminal organizations can be traced to 1980’s Los Angeles, where they were formed by Salvadorian refugees. Few in Central America were aware of the gangs' existence until the United States government began deporting gang members back to the region in the 1980’s and ’90’s. The F.B.I. estimates the gang now has 10,000 members operating in cells or “cliques” in 42 states, with an additional 50,000 members in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. These gangs are responsible for countless murders in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as in El Salvador, where they are involved in the extortion of immigrants and drug trafficking in Mexico.