On September 30, 2010, Wilver R. Lopez, also known as “Conde”, was sentenced to 35 years in prison by Senior United States District Judge Leonard D. Wexler. Lopez is a clique leader in the Long Island street gang La Mara Salvatrucha (“MS-13”) which originated in El Salvador . The sentencing came after Lopez plead guilty to the September 17, 2004 murder of fellow MS-13 member Genaro Venegas in Bethpage, New York. The 24 year old man’s crime, according to Lopez, was talking to the police about a previous crime Lopez had committed.
El Salvador Strict Policies
The gang has been involved in organized violence against the government in Honduras. In 1997, MS-13 members kidnapped and murdered the son of Honduras President Ricardo Maduro. El Salvador has a murder rate of approximately 54 per every 100,000 people. That is well above the United States murder rate of approximately 6 per every 100,000.
In an effort to reduce gang activity, El Salvador imposed strict gang laws. A suspect in violation of El Salvador’s gang laws could face a 12-year prison sentence even with no crime actually committed. Having a gang tattoo was enough evidence to prosecute you with the highest penalty.
Threat to American Society
With poor conditions in El Salvador, many MS-13 members illegally immigrated to the US where our criminal systems appear docile compared to El Salvador. MS-13 moved to the Los Angeles area in the late 1980’s. The first Los Angeles MS-13 gangs formed to protect El Salvadorian immigrants from the strong, merciless LA gangs. As they grew and started to prosper, the gang began to wreak havoc on the Salvadorian community themselves. By the 1990’s, MS-13 had spread across the U.S. and was planted deep on the East Coast. .
MS-13 quickly became one of the most violent and feared gangs in the country. MS-13 has “cliques”, or factions, in at least 42 states, about 6,000-10,000 members nationwide, as well as Canada , Mexico, District of Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and several South American countries. Gang members wear blue and green, like in El Salvador’s flag.
Taking into effect ties to their former homeland, MS-13 members have access to sophisticated weapons. This makes firearms trafficking one of their many profitable criminal enterprises. Regardless of their access to heavy weaponry, there have been many assaults, and even murders, where MS-13 members have used machetes to assault victims.
Despite local law enforcement efforts, as well as the FBI launching the multi-agency MS-13 National Gang Task Force, the gang is still strong throughout the country. MS-13 is a deadly threat to American society.
With such a high number of members in the US, and more being added, how can we be sure our towns are safe? Call your local legislature and demand tougher gang laws. We the people of the United States have the right to have our voices heard. Speak up about the violence and danger being allowed to threaten our safety.
United States Attorney’s Office Department of Justice Press Release, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation The MS-13 Threat A National Assessment, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Altered Dimensions MS13 Gang, Altered Dimensions
Know Gangs Mara Salvatrucha MS-13, Know Gangs
Federal Bureau of Investigation The Gang Threat Get Educated Federal Bureau of Investigation