Washington Post Staff Writer
Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. ..GANGSTER'S OR PATRIOTS?
Fri Feb 18, 2005 00:38


Some 400 miles north of Charlotte, the northern Virginia and southern Maryland communities around Washington, D.C., have become MS-13 turf. Local authorities estimate that there are between 5,000 and 6,000 MS-13 members in the metropolitan area.

Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. ...

Fairfax Detective Describes Gang's Violent Lifestyle
Washington Post - 19 hours ago
... tragic end of a night of heavy drinking. They said it was a planned hit on a gang rival by members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. ...


Official says al-Qaeda may enter US at southern border
AZ Central.com, AZ - 3 hours ago
... Earlier this year, he suggested the MS-13 gang, which has its roots in El Salvador and is also known as Mara Salvatrucha, may have links to al-Qaeda. ...
An inside like at MS-13 gang initiations
San Antonio Express (subscription), TX - Feb 14, 2005
... According to this former member, every new recruit that tries to get into Mara Salvatrucha, or MS 13, has to endure a 13-second beating by other gang members. ...
Probe links gang to slayings
News & Observer, NC - Feb 13, 2005
... gang ties, Perry said. Perry would not specify which suspects have ties to Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. The MS-13 gang ...

Montgomery County Sentinel Prince George's Sentinel
Montgomery County Sentinel, MD - Feb 11, 2005
... members in Montgomery, 200 of which are members of the county's most notorious gang called Mara Salvatrucha. That gang is commonly referred to as MS or M-13. ...

Feared Latin gang touches region
Miami Herald (subscription), FL - Feb 7, 2005
... Authorities say the Honduran pair belong to Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a notorious gang born among Central American immigrants in Los Angeles, exported back ...

MS-13 Man Sentenced to 3 Life Terms
Washington Post (Subscription), DC - Feb 4, 2005
... Nine of those are believed to have been committed by members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. Seven of the 11 victims are thought to have been gang members. ...

Local Gang With Ties to Al Qaeda?
Providence Eyewitness News, RI - Feb 8, 2005
... see if the kid getting pummeled is tough enough to be a member of Mara Salvatrucha. ... With evidence MS 13 is growing and with four known members in his jail the ...

Party turns violent
Woburn Advocate, MA - Feb 9, 2005
... MS-13, which stands for La Mara Salvatrucha, is an extremely violent organization with roots in El Salvador, and boasts more than 100 significant members in ...
Tattoo Removal Programs Gain Popularity as a Tool in the Fight ...

Washington Post - Feb 10, 2005
... Ethnic gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have been found in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and in Alexandria, Herndon and ...

New! Get the latest news on Mara Salvatrucha 13 with Google Alerts

Murder Trial Offers Rare Look at MS-13
Fairfax Detective Describes Gang's Violent Lifestyle

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 17, 2005; Page VA03

A Fairfax County gang unit detective played a key role in a recent court case in Prince George's County in which a Suitland man was convicted of first-degree murder.

The trial in Prince George's Circuit Court offered an unusual glimpse into a Latino gang that officials say is responsible for an increasing amount of violence in the Washington area.

After a three-day trial, including deliberations, a jury on Jan. 28 found Mario Ayala, 21, guilty of murdering Ashley A. Urias, 38.

Prince George's prosecutors said they thought the key testimony was that of a gang unit detective from Fairfax County, who testified as an expert witness about the violent nature of the gang that prosecutors said Ayala belonged to.

Prosecutors said they believed it was the first time a gang expert had testified as an expert witness in a criminal trial in Prince George's County.

Urias was beaten to death in a Suitland cemetery May 22 after a night of heavy drinking with Ayala, Ayala's cousin and a friend of Ayala's. Urias was beaten with a baseball bat and a golf club, according to court testimony.

Ayala told police he hit Urias once in the leg with a golf club. Ayala said he grabbed the club from a truck his friend had driven to the cemetery after he saw Urias menacing his friend and his cousin with a baseball bat, threatening to kill them.

Prince George's police and prosecutors concluded that the killing wasn't just the tragic end of a night of heavy drinking. They said it was a planned hit on a gang rival by members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

In the home Ayala shared with his cousin, Alexis Ayala, 22, police found athletic jerseys in blue and white with the number "13." Members of MS-13 are known to wear jerseys with that number in those colors. The defendant had a tattoo that indicated membership in MS-13, police said. Police also found photos of the Ayalas flashing gang hand signals.

Assistant State's Attorney Laura J. Gwinn told jurors that the defendant had learned Urias was a member of 18th Street, Mara Salvatrucha's chief rival.

Gwinn argued that Ayala helped lure Urias with the intention of attacking him. Ayala's cousin and friend also belong to MS-13, prosecutors said.

To buttress her argument, Gwinn called to the witness stand a detective who hadn't investigated the killing: Michael Porter, a member of the Fairfax County police gang unit.

Porter, a 10-year veteran of the unit, testified that members of MS-13 would face punishment from fellow members if they encountered an 18th Street gang rival and didn't attack him.

"MS-13 members are expected to, in their words, 'get at' members of 18th Street. No question," Porter testified.

An MS-13 member would not be expected to stand by if his gang compatriots were involved in a fight, Porter testified. "Everybody's considered a soldier if something happens," he said.

If an MS-13 member encountered a gang rival and failed to attack, he'd be disciplined after fellow members convened a "court" to determine the punishment, Porter testified.

The gang member would face one of three punishments, Porter testified: A 13-second beating, a 26-second beating or a 39-second beating. The latter could involve bats, machetes and guns, he testified.

Porter said Mara Salvatrucha emerged in the mid-1980s in Los Angeles, in the MacArthur Park area patrolled by the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. The neighborhood is known as "Little El Salvador."

Initially, some members of the Mexican Mafia, a California prison gang, demanded that Mara Salvatrucha pay a "street tax," Porter testified. When Mara Salvatrucha refused, the Mexican Mafia killed some Mara Salvatrucha members, Porter testified.

Porter described MS-13 as a "header gang," with smaller cliques. To join MS-13, one has to join a specific clique, Porter testified.

Ayala is scheduled to be sentenced March 25. Alexis Ayala, 22, his cousin, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is to be sentenced March 17. The third defendant, Everec Alvarez-Chacon, 27, is scheduled to be tried May 16 on a first-degree murder charge.

Main Page - Saturday, 02/19/05

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