The Mara Salvatrucha, commonly abbreviated as MS-13, is one of the most dangerous crime syndicates in the world! Its members are so feared the authorities even let them run their own prison.
MS-13 is an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, California. It has spread to other parts of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. The majority of the gang is ethnically composed of Central Americans (mostly Salvadorans) and active in urban and suburban areas.
Members of the gang distinguish themselves by tattoos covering the body and also often the face, as well as the use of their own sign language. Common markings include “MS”, “Salvatrucha”, the “Devil Horns”, the name of their clique, and other symbols.
They are notorious for their use of violence and a subcultural moral code that predominantly consists of merciless revenge and cruel retributions. Penas Ciudad Barrios “is a maximum security prison for members of the MS” which is run by members of the MS, with guards only patrolling the outside.
Adam Hinton, a photographer from London, was given a unique chance to visit probably the most dangerous prison on earth to take portraits of some of the inmates. “It was built for 800 inmates and now houses over 2500.
The prison is practically run internally by the gang who have organised a bakery, basic rehabilitation and are even left to run the hospital. As you enter the prison you soon realise that there are no guards around. They only stay on the outside and let the gang run the joint, which they do very well given the conditions,” he said.