This Is for the Mara Salvatrucha: Inside the MS-13, America's Most Violent Gang

This Is for the Mara Salvatrucha: Inside the MS-13, America's Most Violent Gang

4.3 31
by Samuel Logan
     
 

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Like any American teenager, Brenda Paz spent much of her time with her friends. They would go to parties, listen to music, and show off their cars late into the night. But Brenda and her friends belonged to the Mara Salvatrucha--the MS-13--the most violent gang in America, and in addition to enjoying the things that all teenagers do, her friends were thieves, drug…  See more details below

Overview

Like any American teenager, Brenda Paz spent much of her time with her friends. They would go to parties, listen to music, and show off their cars late into the night. But Brenda and her friends belonged to the Mara Salvatrucha--the MS-13--the most violent gang in America, and in addition to enjoying the things that all teenagers do, her friends were thieves, drug dealers, human traffickers, and murderers. A street gang that began in Los Angeles in the 1980s, the Mara Salvatrucha has spread across the United States and Central America with startling speed, boasting tens of thousands of members. They deal ruthlessly with competing gangs and any members who display disloyalty, often leaving a trail of dismembered corpses in their wake. They are poised to surpass the Mafia as the country's most organized criminal network. And by operating within the insular Central American immigrant communities, the Mara Salvatrucha has been able to easily elude law enforcement.

All that changed when Brenda Paz turned informant for the FBI, exposing the incredible scope of the gang's operations. But Brenda's cooperation with the FBI was only the beginning. What followed is an extraordinary story of strength, intelligence, and incredible courage.

This Is for the Mara Salvatrucha takes us into a dark and violent world that few people have seen, but is closer than you think.

Editorial Reviews

In bygone days, violent gangs were conceptualized as a Mexican problem or a L.A. barrio problem or an urban problem. Those days are gone: Gang activity is nationwide and growing. No organization is more dangerous, or spawning more quickly, than the Mara Salvatrucha, which began in the '80s and now reputedly has 800,000 members in 33 states. This book on the gang, the first ever in English, traces its story through the life of former gang member Brenda Paz, who at the age of 15 became the first major FBI informant about this savage criminal cartel. This Is for the Mara Salvatrucha was written by Samuel Logan, a journalist who has spent several years researching the group.
Publishers Weekly

Using all of the tools of a capable police investigation, Logan, a journalist based in Latin America, connects the fortunes of Brenda Paz, a Honduran-American teenager, with the ultraviolent Mara Salvatrucha gang. After family difficulties led Paz's father to send her to Texas to live with her uncle, she witnessed a friend's murder by her boyfriend, the leader of the local MS-13 gang, and fled to Virginia following her boyfriend's arrest. Logan probes the secretive Mara Salvatrucha, which funds its illegal activities through extortion, kidnapping, prostitution, drugs and theft, causing the FBI to label it the most dangerous of all criminal outfits. Eventually Paz informs on the gang about the national leadership and crimes, and the Feds unwisely stash the restless teenager in the witness protection program. Placing the reader in the midst of this story with harrowing detail, Logan writes of a young life wasted and an evil crime empire. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal
Brenda was jumped into the Mara Salvatrucha (MS) gang in Texas when she was just 15. Her relationships with gang leaders led to a meteoric rise within the MS until she was privy to most of its secrets; she witnessed several murders and knew about more to come. But her high-ranking boyfriends kept getting sent to prison, and lonely Brenda eventually became a police informant. This is where the real story begins: At age 16 Brenda was removed from her uncle's guardianship in order to enter the Witness Protection Program. Required to spend her days alone in a hotel room, she rebelled by running away and reuniting with MS members, who learned she'd turned state's witness and murdered her in a Virginia park. The reader wonders where her parents were throughout; the book is short on answers. Logan does not give us any information about Brenda's childhood or family, although he does question the decision to sequester a teenager in a hotel for months. VERDICT More backstory would have made the book outstanding, but without it, it's still an intriguing read and will appeal to many readers of true crime as well as urban studies.—Daisy Porter, San José P.L., CA
Kirkus Reviews
Fact-heavy, unfocused investigation of the Mara Salvatrucha criminal organization and the murder of a former member. At age 12, Brenda Paz began her affiliation with a Dallas branch of the Latino Mara Salvatrucha street gang, one of the most powerful in the United States. When she was 15, Paz participated in her "jumping in"-enduring a vicious 13-second beating by the male gang members, one of two entry points for women into the MS (the other being "sexing in"). Paz found all the freedom, attention, respect and excitement she later admitted to craving, and her boyfriend Veto, the gang's leader, gave her access and protection. She transformed from an isolated ninth grader living in her uncle's care to a direct witness of countless extortions, robberies, stabbings, beatings, rapes and murders. After her arrest in connection to a murder, she became an informant for FBI investigations into the MS and a member of the Witness Protection Program. Investigative journalist Logan recounts much of Paz's story with protracted, expressionless exposition and wooden dialogue-the author wastes a lot of ink on his subjects' inner monologues-sacrificing narrative energy for trivial details. When Paz is inevitably murdered at the hands of her former comrades, readers may be left strangely unaffected. Logan expends no effort to build tension, instead framing Paz's death as obvious to everyone except her. Such tragedies are nearly always greater than the sum of their details, and it takes a discerning writer to tease them out. In merely recounting each fact without analysis or apparent empathy, Logan disappoints as both a journalist and storyteller. Enervated treatment of a story that deserves more. Filmrights to Paramount Vantage. Agent: Rebecca Friedman/Sterling Lord Literistic

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401394486
Publisher:
Hachette Books
Publication date:
07/07/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
187,232
File size:
533 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Awista Ayub was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and escaped with her family to Connecticut at 2 years old. Following 9/11, she founded the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange as a means of introducing soccer to the young women of Aghanistan, both on US and Afghan soil. Today, she serves as director of the AYSE and lives in Washington, DC.

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This is for the Mara Salvatrucha: Inside the MS-13, America's Most Violent Gang 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Tash50 More than 1 year ago
I heard about this book on a radio show where the author was interviewed. The story occurred in my locality and was about gangs. I'm a police officer so I was interested immediately on both aspects. I started reading at 8:30 AM on a Saturday morning and finished the book at 2:30 PM the same day. I was so engaged I couldn't put it down. I found the research impeccable, the writing very well done, and the imagery intense to stay the least. What touched me most was the instant familiarity with the central figure, Brenda Paz. I really felt as if I knew her. She was real to me. The outside objective viewer. I found myself fighting for her despite the known inevitable ending. The other portion of this book that is amazing is the revelation process it exposes. While I'm a police officer you need not be to become aware of this issues exposed in this book. I think it's a must read for parents. it can really alert parents AND children to the dangers and negative realities out in our community; no matter if you live in my area or elsewhere. I caution parents from having their children read this unless there is maturity, open dialogue, and understanding. There are some very graphic descriptions. This good for awareness however; it could be unsettling for some. In all fairness it isn't anymore graphic then Rated R movies. I think if a parent wants their child to read this they should read it first and ensure there are conversations back forth regarding the contents. There is more to be learned from this book then just the obvious gang issues plaguing our backyards. this is a story about a real person and events. It's a HUMAN story. One that is sad but above all a reality that highlights what can happen from the most basic form of emotional neglect. It's a gradual decent with promises of an amazing life when really it's life that was stolen. In both the literal and figurative senses. Most poignant of all is that it was avoidable with proper love and attention(in most cases). It begs the question; as parents, teachers, and other concerned responsible persons, what happens when we ignore or neglect persons in our life? I recommend this book strongly. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did but that they take something from it too. It was an eye opening book.
1994LR More than 1 year ago
The book was very elaborated and it was easy to follow. the information was an eye opener. Being from El Salvador I heard many time about the MS 13 But I thought the chances for me to be affected by the phenomenon is very slim. I've been living at the DC area for 15 years. The spreading of ms 13 criminal activities has brought me to look for information about the criminal group. Thanks to the writer for compiling all the story in a way that any kid can follow. I recommend the book for kids older then 12. I know he book is graphic but so are the activities this gangs are doing in our communities. Kids need to know how difficult it is to get out of this elicit organizations and maybe this book will discourage them for try. All the middle and high schools in the DC area are infected by ms 13. Parents don't let your guards down. these thugs will might get to your kids without you knowing. It will useful for the book to be publish in Spanish in the US as many parents can only read in their native language.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I decided to read this book because of a news report that I seen on the Brenda Paz case when I was younger. The report was short and only covered the basic it left me with unaswered questions regarding the Brenda Paz case. This book answer them for me. The writting is very clear and detailed. This book gives the reader a clear view inside the gang life. I definantly recomend this book to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Olivia Halvorsen More than 1 year ago
Excellent!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so steam packed with action and deceiving parts! Defiantly a must read trust me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book was a great read. once i started i couldn't put it down. gets into the nitty gritty of the gang lifestyle. just sorry brenda's story ended the way it did. hope others learn from this book.
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Marky13 More than 1 year ago
Much Respect a must read definetly!!!
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