Attributes of a Organized Crime Group

Essay by spazosburnUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2008

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Attributes of an Criminal Group � PAGE �2�

Attributes of Criminal Groups: Mara Salvatrucha (Week Two)

University of Phoenix CJA/393: Organized Criminal Groups

February 4, 2008

Attributes of a Criminal Group: Mara Salvatrucha

While many Americans are familiar with groups such as Al-Qaida, they are less knowledgeable about a group spreading terror within the United States inner cites. This group is the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. This essay will focus on the history, structure, operation, activities and participants of the group known as MS-13. The focus will also include the group's involvement in the drug trade and law enforcement efforts to thwart the group's activities. As the group gains strength in numbers and with knowledge, it becomes increasingly more dangerous for anyone to encounter them.

During the early 1980's, a civil war took place in El Salvador. The war lasted over 12 years and resulted in approximately 100,000 casualties (Valdez, 2000).

The war caused fear among the citizens in El Salvador and as a result, over one million people fled to the United States. El Salvador refuges began to settle in Southern California and Washington D.C., with the largest initial group settling in Los Angeles.

When the first group of El Salvadorians refuges settled in the Rampart area of Los Angeles, they were met with opposition. The Mexican residents did not welcome them and they became targets of local gang violence (known Gangs, n.d.). As a result, a group of refugees created a new gang to protect themselves. This gang became known as Mara Salvatrucha. The name is believed to have been derived from combining the word "Mara," which is the Spanish word for "army ant," with the word "Salvatrucha," which is slang for Salvadorian (Wikipedia, n.d.)

When Mara Salvatrucha initially formed, their goal was to...