America’s Most Vicious Gang

MS-13 is spreading senseless violence to cities and suburbs across the country.

By Sam Dealey from Reader's Digest | January 2006

For the Ivano family, the school day began like any other. It was a Tuesday morning in December, just days before the Christmas break, and Abraham was fighting his way through the Los Angeles traffic to his children’s schools. He made good time, and after dropping off his daughter, Shamrim, Abraham and his son, Walentin, had a moment to spare. Over coffee at Starbucks, they talked basketball for a while, and then discussed a computer engineering course at a local college that Walentin hoped to take. Abraham and his wife had done the math and thought the family could afford it; he promised to take Walentin that Friday to learn more about the program. Then Abraham dropped his son off at the magnet high school he attended.

'Isabella' talks about life inside MS-13 on a rooftop in Central Los Angeles. Photo by Darcy Padilla'Isabella' talks about life inside MS-13 on a rooftop in Central Los Angeles.

He Never Made It Home
Walentin never made it home that night. As he and a friend lunched at a local Chinese restaurant, a tough group of Latino boys and girls approached. They accused the friends of belonging to a rival gang and, when Walentin denied it, set upon the two. As Walentin pleaded with them to stop, the gang members beat him viciously and crashed a chair onto his head. Then, as quickly as it began, it was over. The gang members fled, and a confused Walentin stooped to gather up his spilled food, needlessly apologizing to the other patrons for the commotion.

That’s when one of his attackers returned. “He pulled the gun out of his pocket and held it toward my son’s forehead,” recounts Suzi Ivano, Walentin’s mother. Her dark eyes fight to hold back the tears, and her hands thumb listlessly at the mementos of her son’s childhood spread on a table before her — commendations for perfect attendance and superb grades, family pictures of a birthday, Walentin’s favorite stuffed Spider-Man toy. “He said ‘Mara Salvatrucha,’ and just shot Walentin,” she finally says. The bullet tore through her child’s neck and lodged in his spinal cord. Walentin lived for another 18 months as a quadriplegic before finally succumbing to his wounds.

No Isolated Act of Violence
Walentin Ivano’s murder was no isolated act of brutality. It was the handiwork of one of the most virulent street gangs in America’s history. La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, has rapidly expanded from L.A., its U.S. birthplace, into more than 30 states across the country. With at least 10,000 members today, the gang’s reach goes well beyond its inner-city roots into middle-class suburban neighborhoods and schools. And that has law enforcement, community leaders and parents struggling to find ways to cope with an organization that the FBI considers its “top priority among criminal gangs.”

See also:
13 Things a Burglar Won’t Tell You
10 New Ideas for Better Roads
15 Jobs You Can Land Without College

  • Your Comments

    • Viktor Drago

      most of the human garbage in gangs like this are ILLEGALS, borders should be closed and these pieces of crap be either shot on site or deported

    • Anonymous

      This is just the beginning of a large and growing Criminal
      Underclass…..Young men who feel that there is no place for them in
      society….Unless we find a way to make people feel that this is their
      America and that they have a stake in the game….This is what they see
      as their future…

      The costs do not and will not go away….As I see it…Either we develop
      social programs or we going to be living with roving gangs of

      These people have to live somehow…..What you are seeing is a
      replication and expansion of what we have inside of our Prisons…..The
      strong preying on and victimizing the weak…

      The Wealthy …Will have their Gated Communities and Private
      Security…..Government is cutting back on Cops and Prisons …No one
      wants to pay for them after all…What do you think it will cost to let
      them run loose?…..Make no mistake ..YOU ARE GOING TO PAY…..The only
      choice is Social Programs…To build a better society….Or this

    • Two snakes coming together

      I say death penalty for any killer in MS-13, and life for everyone else. RICO

    • Kevin923214

      it was scary i dont know what to do

    • Maureenthefirst620

      When the government is involved in our homes and says no one can hit these kids, heres what you get. My father would’ve beat my you know what if I stepped out of line. I knew the rules, and if I chose to defy him I had a price to pay. He didn’t hit me for making a mistake, that is when he taught me. But if I was defiant look out. I am grateful he cared enough to do his job. Paaents of the 60′s want to be friends with their kids. They don’t need friends, they need parents. After they are adults you can become friends as well as parents. But always they must be taught respect for life, for authority, for elders, etc. Also, today no one is home to teach anything, not to mention all these children of children who never were taught right from wrong and then find themselves being teenage parents.  Our current answer…abortion , no God, no teaching, no morals, no rules, no consequences.

    • Maureenthefirst620

      Where is Elliot Ness? He’d end this fiasco. Then we cry police brutality.  When parents don’t do their job, when the government says no one can it these kids, no rules, no consequences, here is what you get. Oh by the way no God in homes, schools or the country.  Congratulations. We finally destroyed every thing. We are worried about green energy.