The Mara Salvatrucha, also called simply Mara or MS-13, is a gang with humble beginnings. In the 1980s, the city of Los Angeles, California, in the United States, saw an influx of immigrants from El Salvador in the wake of the civil wars raging across Central America at the time. In this new environment these immigrants found themselves living in decrepit, poor areas where they were terrorized by the established and unforgiving Mexican and African American street gangs. In response to this imminent threat, Mara Salvatrucha was simply born as a method of protection, starting small but quickly growing in numbers until over the years the gang would reach tens of thousands of members and affiliates spread out all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and beyond. From these humble roots the MS-13 has also become one of the most notorious and feared gangs in the world, creating alarm among both the public and law enforcement, and they just keep expanding.
Members of MS-13 are involved in all manner of criminal operations such as drug dealing and human trafficking, and are probably most known for their elaborate body and facial tattoos, their code of swift and merciless retribution, and their breathtaking use of decisive cruelty and extreme violence, which they see as a tool to send strong messages to those who would dare to oppose them. It is not uncommon for them to use rape, torture, brutal beatings, mutilations, and murder as tools of terror, both on those that have incurred their wrath and their families, and even those who simply those who have looked at them the wrong way. They are indiscriminate in their violence, targeting both adults and children with their bloody wrath. More little known and hidden in the murk behind the scenes is that the gang also has the apparent practice of attempting to use paranormal means to achieve their aims.
According to insiders within the gang, MS-13 members have experimented with everything from using Ouija boards to extract information or gather names of who to target, to utilizing demonic rituals to go into trances in which they feel no pain and exhibit superhuman strength, to the full on summoning of demons, and even by some accounts the Devil himself. One former MS-13 member originally from Guatemala, who spoke to the New York Post writer Isabel Vincent for an article called I was an MS-13 gang member — and got out alive tells an interesting tale. In the article, the former gang member, referred to as “Speedy,” tells of his experiences with the gang and how he finally got out, weaving an intriguing story of sinister violence and redemption, and also providing a rare glimpse into the world of MS-13 from the eyes of one of its members. It is a very enlightening article, and among the tales “Speedy” has to tell is one account illustrating the gang’s use of supernatural forces, of which he:
Sometimes when we wanted to find out if people were snitching on us we would summon the devil. The devil for us was a symbol of protection. We used a Ouija board to call him. Once, the devil took over my body. I went into a crazy state. I didn’t know what was happening and it took ten members of the gang to hold me down. In a trance, some gang members would give up names of people to target. It was a loyalty test, and we called it ‘taking a soul.’ If the devil gave you a name, you had to go out and mess that person up. You had to take their soul.It is a chilling image to be sure, these hardened gangsters sitting around a Ouija board, their eye sockets harboring pools of shadows in the dimness of the room, their tattoos dancing in the flickering light of candles as they try to summon dark forces beyond our comprehension. It could be something out of a horror movie, and apparently this happens on various occasions, with MS-13 members known for employing Satanic shrines, engaging in occult rituals, and trying to conjure up demonic forces. One gruesome instance of these paranormal beliefs within the gang was brought to national attention recently in the high profile series of cases of members of MS-13 involved with the murders of at least eight high school students across the US, one of which involved talk of satanism and devil worship.
In one case in 2017, two El Salvadoran illegal immigrants named Miguel Alvarez-Flores, 22, also known as “Diabolico,”and Diego Hernandez-Rivera, 18, took part in the kidnapping and murder of one 15-year-old girl, as well as in the rape and torture of two other underage girls. When the two were brought in on charges, there was much testimony against them that pointed to a twisted web of demon worshiping and satanism. One 14-year-old girl was held in their clutches in Houston, Texas, and plied with alcohol or drugs, where she was raped repeatedly by a thug she called “Flaco,” and later forced to receive a tattoo of the Grim Reaper on her leg as gang members held her down. During her testimony, she claimed that there had been another 15-year-old young woman who had called herself “Genesis,” and that this woman had been eventually killed for allegedly insulting a satanic shrine that had been set up by the gang.
According to the testimony or the witness, Alvarez and Flores had proceeded to pray to the shrine, perform some sort of ritual that involved placing a lit cigarette there, and declare that “The beast did not want a material offering, but wanted a soul,” and after that Genesis went off into the unknown. Not long after that, “Genesis” disappeared. Not long after that, the body of a young woman who had been shot at close range in the head and chest and tortured turned up in the middle of a road near Houston’s Chinatown area, and was eventually determined to be that of a Genesis Conejo, who had earlier been reported missing by her family. Alvarez and Flores were subsequently apprehended in a police raid. They were charged with murder, and this was the first time the gang was directly prosecuted for a “Satanic murder” in the United States.
One gets the feeling while reading through such reports that this is only the tip of the iceberg, What sort of sinister rituals is this violent gang involved in and what affect has it had on their activities? How deep does this belief in the paranormal go and what does that mean for the people who live in fear of them? We often hear of “Satanic murders” and rituals cloaked in shadows, but it become even more alarming when married to the specter that is the organized crime syndicate known as the Mara Salvatrucha. Whatever any of this means, it certainly shows that the realm of the weird and the supernatural has had implications that reach out into one of the most ruthless, terrifying gangs around, and it provides food for thought on what place such beliefs have on the culmination and amplification of the group’s activities. Who knows how deep this rabbit hole will get.