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Homies and HermanosGod and Gangs in Central America$
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Robert Brenneman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199753840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753840.001.0001

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From Pandilla to Mara

From Pandilla to Mara

(p.21) 1 From Pandilla to Mara
Homies and Hermanos

Robert Brenneman

Oxford University Press

Where did the transnational gangs come from and how violent are they? This chapter begins with the story of a Salvadoran ex-member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) in order to better understand how this gang and others emerged in the streets of East Los Angeles and evolved to become loosely-networked “franchises” with thousands of members in several countries. In the 1990s the Los Angeles Police Department deported tens thousands of Central American youth, among whom were many members of the MS-13 and the M-18 who colonized the local street gangs already existing in Central America. The transnational gangs are compared to a franchise in order to emphasize their fluidity and their highly local dynamics along with their adoption of internationally recognized symbols, vocabulary, and protocols. The chapter also examines the connection between gang membership and homicide rates in the “Northern Triangle” of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

Keywords:   Pandilla, Mara, Salvatrucha, MS-13, Franchise, Northern Triangle, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, gangs

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