Life and Death Among the Gangs of Central America

By Sarah Esther Maslin—New Republic—April 11, 2016

El Niño Hollywood was a scrappy preteen, dirt-poor and wide-eyed, when he met Chepe Furia. The 26-year-old, hardened by the Mara Salvatrucha gang on the streets of Los Angeles, had recently returned to El Salvador to build his child army. It was 1994. Furia flashed his shiny truck and brand-name clothes to reel in El Niño and two dozen of his adolescent friends. In abandoned houses in the province of Ahuachapán, he told stories of great battles against the Barrio 18 gang, and forced the boys to beat the hell out of each other. He showed them his weapons: one 9mm and two .22-caliber pistols. That was it—they were in …

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