With a motto of "kill, rape, control," MS-13 is one of the most ruthless transnational criminal organizations in the world. The gang started in the United States in the 1980s when Salvadorans began fleeing a brutal civil war in their country. They banded together in Los Angeles to form Mara Salvatrucha, more commonly known as MS-13.
As MS-13 members got arrested and deported back to El Salvador, their horrific acts of violence followed. Today, El Salvador’s homicide rate is three times that of Mexico and gang culture dominates life across the country. They have a growing presence throughout not only Central America, but across America as well, where they’ve been reported in more than 200 major U.S. cities to date.
With President Donald Trump's declaration that eradicating MS-13 in the U.S. is a top priority, El Salvador is now facing a full-on violence crisis. More police officers have been hired to handle problems gang members may cause when they return to their home soil. But with prisons already overcrowded and being run from the inside, it seems the country’s best hope lies with the children.