Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Tattooed faces a dead giveaway 2007 Dec 16 online
"The Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha gangs are known throughout Central America and the United States for their brazen tactics, including beheading their enemies and covering entire buildings and even their bodies with gang symbols.
"Now, according to anti-gang operatives, these traditionally uneducated and aimless youth have begun recruiting high school and college students, and are expanding their criminal repertoire from minor robbery to large-scale extortion, prostitution, car theft and kidnappings.
"The gangs first formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s, attracting Salvadorans who fled to the United States to escape civil war. A decade later, after many of the members were deported for crimes committed in the United States, the gangs established themselves in Central America.
"The Maras are believed to number about 100,000 in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. As many as 30,000 also operate in the United States, mostly in Los Angeles, according to U.S. federal authorities."
* Logan 2010 p36
"... [T]he MS ... and teardrop tattoo were hard-earned symbols of status and power in the Mara Salvatrucha. The teardrop was a common street gang symbol that meant one thing: at some point the wearer had killed in the name of his gang. Within the MS, a teardrop symbolized murder, but it took more than one murder to earn the right to tattoo the name of the gang above the neckline."