Hustling & Hip-Hop

Public Enemy #1

The crazier a gang member is the more respect he gets from his gang. And this works for inter gang relationships too. The more brutal and terrorizing a gang is the less other gangs want to fuck with them on any type of level- MS-13 currently holds the crown as craziest gang in the country. The headlines scream – MS-13 America’s most vicious gang is spreading violence to cities and suburbs across the country. But you can’t always believe the headlines or can you?

“I believe that today things are out of control and there is too much violence,” says Jose Platero a 37 year old MS-13 member who’s been down with the clicks for 22 years,, Jose an El Salvadoran national is currently in the feds serving e sentence for illegal reentry, “back in the days MS were a group of juveniles that would get together to talk about ladies and getting high on marijuana and alcohol. There were enemies back in the day but we used to resolve our problems with our fists instead of guns. Back when I joined MS there were only a few who resolved their problems with guns.” But that was in the 80’s and nowadays papers are reporting that MS-13 alleged violent activities and careless disregard for the law has made them the most feared gang in the US. The Washington Times reported that they have ties to terrorist group Al Qaeda and that they’re a threat to homeland security. Is it all hype or reality?

“I feel it’s not fair because the news only reports on-what kind of criminals we are and what kind of crimes we commit and how violent we are,” Jose says. “But they never write about how we were produced and they don’t understand the kind of childhood that the majority of the members had.” But nonetheless the mainstream media has characterized the group as a violent and powerful gang that’s been responsible for murders, rapes, attacks on law enforcement, drug smuggling, gun running, people smuggling, hits for hire, theft, drug sales, arson, strong arming locals, leaving dismembered corpses, malicious wounding, assaults and batteries, and drug and weapon charges. Sounds like the mob in their heyday, but these aren’t middle aged wiseguys. It’s mostly kids and teenagers. It’s the group’s mindless brutality that keeps making headlines. Their penchant for violence is renowned.

“I think it is such a big deal now because of the crimes that MS-13 commits. I think the world doesn’t think enough of MS-13 because the problem is still there and is still growing.” Jose says and the FBI reports that MS-13 has cliques or factions located throughout the United States and that they are actively recruiting young Hispanic males and females of which there is an abundance. Here both legally and illegally. They have rapidly expanded from LA, their birthplace, into more than 30 states across the nation. With more than a reported 10,000 members their reach goes well beyond their inner city roots and into the suburbs. But is the media correct in their portrayal?

“Yes,” Jose says. “The media is correct with their portrayal of MS-13 and it being widespread. The world has to think more intelligently concerning MS-13 to correct the problem. We need wisdom to educate the children of the future.” MS-13 are known as the most dangerous gang around. They started in California in the 80’s when more than a million Salvadoran refugees fled their war torn homeland for the US where they settled in the barrios of LA. “MS-13 originated from Los Angeles and we are the children of the Salvadorans that were running from the war that the capitalists started for the power of the government,” Jose says. “I am a product of the war and I was formed while living on the streets copying the actions of the older criminals.” The young immigrants bonded together for protection. It was an El Salvadoran thing in east LA.

“At the beginning of the story MS-13 was only for original Salvadorans,” Jose says, but since then MS-13 has opened its ranks to Hispanics of all origins. “The M is for Mara, the S is for Salvatrucha and the 13 is for Sureno.” Jose says. “In the beginning we were M.S.S. which was MS stoners.” And as the original members were deported back to their home countries of El Salvador and Honduras they recruited religiously and entered the US again in staggering numbers.

The Hispanic males now mostly in their teens and early 20’s are seen as public enemy#1 in the US. “It wasn’t supposed to be that way,” Jose says. “I believe this has something to do with the two presidents who are in power now. El Gringo y el Guanaco, it’s a political thing.” But its also a poverty thing.

“Life in my country is inhumane for the poor.” Jose says. “My homies over there are being treated with a criminal hand.” And the prisons in El Salvador are awful. They might be responsible for providing a breeding ground for the gang.

“Prison conditions are very bad in El Salvador. Poor sanitation, over population, terrible food.” Jose says. “Actually one could refer to prison in El Salvador as criminal factories. A criminal is a human being that has a right to be treated as a human being not as an animal. That’s why we have courts and judges and prosecutors. But if they are corrupt that’s another story.” And like many MS-13 members Jose’s childhood wasn’t easy.

“I don’t remember having one,” he says. “I am a victim of the war. I was educated in the streets. I learned how to read and write in juvenile hall. I learned how to speak English from growing up in the streets. My background is my experience in the world of crime and I’m from that world.” And a lot of his homies are from that world too. A world that eventually leads to prison.

“I am in prison because of my criminal history and because I am not supposed to be in the USA,” Jose says. “The system calls it Illegal Alien found in the United States following deportation.” Jose estimates there are about 1000 of his homies in American prisons right now, but with all the anti-gang bills being passed by congress which are specifically targeted at MS-13 there will probably be a lot more coming in. And after doing their time they will be deported again back to their home countries where the governments are unable to bring them under control. The result has been to further entrench their smuggling operations. And for any members wishing to drop out, that’s a no-no.

“I will, be an MS-13 member until I die,” says Jose because once a member is brought in they’re in for life. Death is the only means of escaping MS-13. Another defining factor of the gang is their absolute intolerance for anyone who informs the police of their activities. “That’s against the rules,” Jose says and the well publicized murders by the gang of several federal informants has shown they are deadly serious. They’ll stop at nothing to get their mission accomplished and with ruthless enforcement of loyalty few have the courage to turn on MS-13.

From Chicago to Raleigh to Des Moines to Dallas you can see MS-13 members flashing their blue and white colors, flashing gang hand signs and spray painting gang graffiti at playgrounds and schoolyards in an attempt to intimidate and gain new recruits. And once accepted into MS-13 it can be deadly to try and break free again. And that has law enforcement struggling to find ways to cope with the group. The FBI considers MS-13 its top priority among criminal gangs and Northern Virginia, home to a sprawling community of Salvadoran outside the nations capital is said to be the gangs east coast stronghold with a reported 2,000 members there. Flexible, organized and highly violent-MS-13 has incorporated themselves into out society and refuses to leave. Jose even knows that talking for this story can get him killed. “To be honest, yes, I am afraid but my opinion in this matter is not going to change the ending of the story of my life,” he says. “I am living on overtime anyway.”

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