Mara Salvatrucha (MS) in Pico-Union – the original neighborhood

By Alex Alonso
Posted: February 11, 2011
Updated: June 30, 2014

Mara Salvatrucha (MS) is an El Salvadoran-American based street gang that started in the late 1970s under the name Mara Salvatrucha Stoners in the low income and high densely populated community of Pico-Union in central Los Angeles. As immigrants from El Salvador where fleeing their warn torn country as a result of a brutal civil war that gripped their nation for over a decade (1980 – 1992), families found the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles as a convenient destination location to flee the atrocities that killed thousands of residents. Many of the immigrants, including the children, had witnessed wide spread violence and executions of peasants, protesters and advocates for social change. Los Angeles, one of the largest cities north of Mexico and on the migration route that most Central Americans traveled when leaving their countries, was chosen as a safer and more economically stable place to settle.

With limited resources, the immigrants arriving to Los Angeles landed in poor ghettoized immigrant neighborhoods, made up of mostly Mexican immigrants, Mexican-Americans and their families. Upon arrival, El Salvadoran boys that were already living in Los Angeles during the late 1970s, were discriminated against in Los Angeles as they attempted to assimilate to a new community and new schools.

El Salvadoran youths were vulnerable and susceptible to group bullying and school yard intimidation as they tried to adjust to a new country, city and schools. Because of unfamiliarity with their new communities, these immigrants became easy targets of intense discrimination by the dominant groups. Because of severe harassment and constant assaults, a small group of El Salvadoran teenagers around 1979 created “MS” as a defensive reaction to respond to consistent victimization that they had encountered in their neighborhoods.

The 18th Street gang, which was the dominant gang in the area and the source of some of the intimidation, were established in three distinct neighborhoods in the Pico-Union community. Between Wilshire Blvd and Beverly the Shatto Park Locos of 18th Street were active. The Columbia Lil Cycos of 18th Street maintained the area between Alvarado and Union off 3rd Street, and The Grand View Locos along with several other clicks occupied the original 18th Street area north west of the intersection of the 10 and 110 Freeways. MS created a neighborhood that was nestled between all three 18th Street neighborhoods occupying an area that was once claimed by the Santanas and Clanton 14th Street during the early and mid 1970s.

MS grew in numbers as the immigration stream from El Salvador continued during the 1980s and as they defended themselves and fought against more established gangs in the Pico-Union section of Los Angeles. By the late 1980s, another El Salvadroan community was growing in Hollywood near Santa Monica Blvd and Western Ave, which gave birth to a second MS neighborhood, ironically in another previous Clanton 14th Street neighborhood. Today there are MS neighborhoods in West Adams, South LA, and in the North Hollywood area of the LA Valley. The formation of the MS gang in Los Angeles is one of the legacies left behind by the 12-year civil war in El Salvador.

The clicks in the original MS neighborhood includes Francis Street Locos, Leeward Grandes (LGS), Park View Locos (PVLS), Coronado Street Locos (CLCS), Normandie Locos (NLS), Pee Wee Locos and Rampart Street Locos (RSL).

Federal Indictments
In November 2007, the federal government, indicted 24 members of several clicks of the Pico-Union faction of MS-13 including members of the Normandie Locos (NLS), Francis Locos (FLS) and Parkview Locos (PVLS). There were also nine members of the Hollywood Locos (HLS) of the Hollywood faction of MS-13 included in the indictment. Los Angeles City Attorney, Rocky Delgadillo and LAPD Chief William Bratton called the sweep of MS-13 in Los Angeles a “short-term solution.”

In June 2009, the federal government indicted 24 alleged members of the same MS13 gang located in the Pico-Union community. Th sixteen-count indictment charged 158 overt acts and 846 drug conspiracy counts involving methamphetamine and cocaine possession dating back to 1995.

Defendants, Fernando Morales, Ramon Cendejas, Kelvin Melgar, Jovel and Juan Fuentes, where charged in the 2007 indictment, and where charged again for the same offenses in the 2009 indictment, violating the double jeopardy clause which precludes the government from dividing a single conspiracy into multiple charges and pursuing successive prosecutions against the same defendant. Those defendants were able to get some of the charges dismissed in a 2012 appeal, after being convicted for the same drug offenses twice.

The 2009 indictment also included a conspiracy to commit murder charge against community activist Alex Sanchez, 37, the Executive Director of “Homies Unidos,” a non-profit organization that works in gang intervention and prevention efforts. Sanchez was charged with conspiring to murder a person that was killed in another country while he was associated with Homies Unidos in the United States. Federal Los Angeles Judge Manuel Real, denied Sanchez bail in October 2009, but was later granted $2 million bail. Former State Senator Tom Hayden, convinced that the charges against Sanchez were false, put up most of the bailed to get Sanchez out of federal custody so he can fight what many believed were “trumped-up” charges.

Alex Sanchez, Executive Director, Homies Unidos

Alex Sanchez, Executive Director, Homies Unidos

Four years later, in Jan 2013, the federal government eventually dismissed all charges against Sanchez, citing that the case against Sanchez was too “flawed” to go forward. Federal prosecutors apologized for mishandling the case while reserving the right to re-file new murder charges in the next three months if credible new evidence is discovered against Sanchez. Judge Dale Fischer dismissed all charges without prejudice, which gives the government until late March 2013 to re-file charges, which they never did.

In December 2013, the federal government indicted the MS-13, a third time in 6-years. Although crimes in Los Angeles, including the Pico-Union community has been at an all time low, law enforcement has continued to imposed the most stringent suppression tools, using massive sweeps and filing mafia-like conspiracy charges against MS13. The three indictments has cost the federal government an estimated 20 million dollars to investigate and prosecute.

The Media
Influenced by law enforcement depictions, every gang is “notorious” and every gang member arrested is always “reputed” and MS-13 and its members are often characterized by these adjectives. Most of the violent acts that gang members claiming to be from MS13 have committed, have occurred outside of the United States, in Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras. All these countries have higher rates of violence accompanied by a culture of violence that rivals the worst ghettos in the US. Nevertheless, violent acts that have occurred thousands of miles away, have shaped the American public perception of MS-13, but there have been a few violent acts that have occurred in the US that have been attributed to MS-13 members.

In May 2004 and 2005, members of the same MS-13 gang in Fairfax County, Virginia used a machete in two separate assaults.

In the May 2004 incident, three members of South Side Locos had taunted MS-13 members at a 7-Eleven convenience store near the 6400 block of Edsall Road in the Alexandria area of Fairfax in Northern Virginia. The three MS-13 members were chased with baseball bats and were forced to flee the location. When they returned a South Side Locos members that was part on the assault, was noticed, and they pursued the 16-year old teen that earlier yielded a baseball bat against them. The 3 MS members trapped the gang member and one holding a machete began to attack him. Not armed with his bat anymore, the teen used his hands to defend causing several fingers to be severed on both hands. A plastic surgeon was able to reattach most of the digits lost in the attack. Cristobal Z. Medrano, 17, Hayner R. Flores, 18, and Jose Cruz-Melendez, 19, plead guilty to the assault and were sentenced to 15-years in prison.

MS-13, The Most Dangerous Gang in America

MS-13, The Most Dangerous Gang in America

In the January 2005 incident, Wilber A. Rivera, 19, chased and attacked gang member Shawn D. Schroeder, 25, outside a Fairfax movie theatre, using a machete. Rivera was able to sever three of Schroeder’s fingers after the two had previous run-ins at a local mall. Schroeder, a member of a local faction of the Rollin 60s Crips was not a rival gang member of the MS13 faction, so their conflict was personal and not related to any gang rivalry as previously reported. Schroeder testified against Rivera and showed his mutilated had to the jury and Rivera was eventually found guilty and sentenced to 28-years for the attack.

Alejandro Enrique Ramirez Umana, 25, of Charlotte, North Carolina was found guilty by federal jury for the double murder of Ruben Garcia Salinas fatally in the chest and Manuel Garcia Salinas in the head in December 2007 after the brother had told Umana that his gang signs were fake. Umana became the first MS-13 members to received the death penalty.

The World's Most Dangerous Gang

The World’s Most Dangerous Gang

None of these violent incidents occurred in Los Angeles, nor had anyone from Los Angeles been involved. The heightened attention that the media gave to MS-13 members, the Los Angeles based gang, which has no connections to gang members in Virginia, North Carolina or Honduras, where the most violence occurred, were now being called “The Most Dangerous Gang in America” in magazine articles and in DVD documentaries.

This fueled youth who were wanting to receive immediate attention to their gang, to use the MS-13 name in dozens of cities around the United States, which further popularized the gang name with young people. This also invited unwanted attention from the federal government who falsely believed that a nationwide and transnational network of MS-13 had been formed. There were even reports that MS-13 members were providing assistance to Al Queda members at the southern US border.

Although most of these reports were untrue, the federal government decided to put a spotlight on the original MS-13 gang in Los Angeles, who has now been indicted three times (2007, 2009 & 2013), each time characterizing them as one of the “most notorious gangs” linking them to violent crimes that they were never connected to. Most of the offenses where conspiracy charges related to drug sales.

32 Comments for “Mara Salvatrucha (MS) in Pico-Union – the original neighborhood”

  1. F.Y.I

    Pretty accurate but someone needs to edit this page.

  2. F.Y.I

    And its Salvadoran NOT SalvadorIan or SalvadorEan or El Salvadorean. Its Salvadoran.

  3. Mierda secas aka mierda salvaculos

  4. AZTLAN GANG

    f#@$k munkee sh*% ..

  5. dreamer

    THIS PAGE SMELLS LIKE PURO CEROTE!!! BIG DREAMER LA LOMA 323(213 OL SKOOL)

  6. Sniper

    Homies!…Listen up..Word just came down that 2 foos from this so called barrio “hell bound” are ratas…Also they never was given permission the used trece.Homies you know what to do.Roll them up A.S.A.P Your varrio will be blessed.Gracias.

  7. Trigg

    Damn accurate page. Except leewards arent around anymore. Francis street took them out. Same as the 711s. Lgs is dead. And all these chumps talking hard sh*% have never done time. All these yousters need to realize that when they get locked up the fools they were talking sh*% to, fighting, and shooting, are going to be road dogs in prison. The only 3 latino hoods that arent surenos in prison are maravilla, norcacas, and MS. They hold theyre own. So keep talking sh*%. No hood aside from the faketeens can reach the stature that MS has reached. Yall busters dont beef with us. The one hood that ive seen try to compete with MY hood is the burlingtons. V.WS MS XIII FLS. f#@$k anyone who thinks they can bang. 8 n vermont. All i have to say is anyone whos f#@$ks with any of the young hommies get lit the f#@$k up.

    • Bandit MLS13

      So what f#@$k Msk f#@$k pvls clcs BIG V.Marijuanos locos 13 we lit you food up not too long ago haha MLS 13 BYG we posted in the west on 3rd ave and 37th st at 3705 chick f#@$k atc k msk 18k Harlem’s sgtokers and lonjas slick bandit bam bam duece duece roko Toler lil boy all on 2nd ave rodeo to 39th st chick we taking over..

    • streetgangs.com

      Your f#@$ken STUPID MS13 runs under the south side banner just like 18st

  8. Trigg

    And we stay f#@$king all the hoodrattz from everyhood. They dont like yall lames when they meet a real G. Ask dreamer loc. his chick is taking it in the blank by one of the hommies. Palabra.

  9. Brown pride Culiacan

    Fuk this cheap blank hood with their pride! Its all about Mafia Sinalosense! U work for us Mexico owns central america! Putos serotes caca thats what u salvis are yall were a mistake for humanity an acvident! So hear me out fuk all of u putos bastards perra madres Arriva el Norte!! U out numbereed..

    • LISTO

      Go to El Salvador and say that…

    • VIVA LA RAZA

      Hey fool u stupid…that’s what’s wrong with the RAZA we keep thinking we’re different from each other..We’re the same color have the same language are the same ethnicity so let’s stop being stupid and racist against ourselves..I’m MEXICAN but We’re all the same just from different countries with different names

  10. WS.TEMPLE.ST 13 RK DK CK

    f#@$k munkee sh*%…WS TST 13 ALLDAY

    • dcpolo

      Wblanka tagging crew turn gang y’all started behind tommy burgers tho rite

    • FUKTAMPAX

      TRUST, I FUK TAMPAX chickZ SUPR SWEET vagina
      N VARIO TAMPAX ARE WASHED UP USED CONDOMS
      PRIDE FULL DIRTY BUMZ WITH MOST OF UR MEMBERZ
      BEING AS OLD AZZ 50S MOST OF THEIR YOUNGER SOLDGERZ
      ARE ALL BARK NO FIGHT PLUS 😉 THE FACT
      EVERYONE FROM UR HOOD IZ STRAIGHT
      PUUUSSSSSSSY LETS FACE THE FACTS HERE
      YOU PUTOZ CANT FIGHT YOUR WAY OUT OF A PAPER BAG
      YOUR HOOD IS A JOKE FUK UR USE GUN SALES N CREDIT CARD FRAUD NOBODY RESPECTS TAMPAX FOR sh*%
      NONE OF U WETBACK MEXICANS CAN FIGHT
      RICHARD RIGHT ARYAN BROTHERHOOD

  11. POWER

    V APX3 f#@$k MIERDAS ki*lah PURO ARMINIAN POWER X3 HGS

  12. Hart campos

    Get a job loser us marines orrraahh

  13. moreno

    serotes and mexicans will never be the same. Brown in color maybe, but those putos speak like sh*% and smell like sh*%. Serotes vale verga.

  14. REBELLIOUS GANG

    f#@$k mierdaseca

  15. spook

    front nikker from ms (Mara Salvatrucha ).

    we own this streets.
    dont step down for no one.

    cop ki*ler pay me the texus

    piece.

    el salvator central gang

  16. Rangerboy

    Ws Wanderers13tmg gang chick f#@$k milk shakesk f#@$k rampartk

  17. WHITE POWER

    f#@$k ALL YOU DIRTY WETBACKS
    WE HAVE MONEY
    ASIANS AND US WHITES HAVE BOUGHT
    UP ALL OF LOSANGELES
    YOU MEXICANS OPEN THE DOOR
    TO BEING GENTRIFIED
    WE f#@$k YOUR SISTERS
    WE PUSH YOU OUT
    WE HAVE TAKEN OVER ALL LOSANGELLES
    YOU FILTHY WET BACKS HAVE NO POWER
    LAPD IS WHITE AND THEY DONT LIKE YOU
    DIRTY PORCHE munkees ETHER!

    white!

  18. FUCK MIERDAS

    f#@$k MS LIL chickES
    f#@$k SEROTES

  19. WICKED1319

    iiiiWaS hErE:))\?§/ MaRaGaNGOrDoNTBang….WiiiiCk’DLokS y GooFy__!1319…?

    18K RWK CRSK PBSK HTSK AZTK WFK W13K F13K TSTK STSK BMK 55K HPSK BNK VNEK 38K 39K GBZK APK C14K HLPK 28K 27K 26K 29K 22K DFSK 13K MCSK ERSK BSEK

    f#@$k ALL ENEMIES

    f#@$k guyS MEXICACAS AND GRINGOS

    WICKED FLS SAID THAT

    ANYBODY CAN GET IT

  20. HEFTY 1319

    THAT’S RIGHT WICKED LA MARA SIEMPRE CONTROLANDO
    WESS.MSX111.NLS.PWLS.FLS
    CALLE NORMANDIE!!! \../

  21. james dillinger

    I be the one to tell u Rosa Family aint snitches I made a million dollars off me they just against young money they trying to get them caught everyday.. Luis perez snitched on a block 300 ppl hustling

  22. BIG BAD FLORENCIA ESE MONSTER GREEN LIGHT N1QQ3RS TAKING LOS ANGELES OVER

    Florencia 13

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