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Teens 14 to 17 Form 100 Gangs in the Poorer Suburbs

By: Patrick Ellis | Real Acapulco News - 22 January, 2011

(Acapulco, NA 22 January) No fewer than 100 delinquent gangs are operating in the poorer suburbs in the periphery of Acapulco according to a special report made by Novedades Acapulco. The concentration is in La Zapata, Renacimiento, Ampliación Simón Bolívar, Vacacional, La Mica y en el Central de Abastos. These are the same neighborhoods afflicted by narco-violence. According to the report, adolescents imitate the LA-based criminal gang Mara Salvatruchas, adopting facial tattoos, sign language and a culture of savage cruelty. Like the LA gangs, these bands mark their territory with graffiti and slogans spray-painted on walls. The gang members range in age from 14 to 17 years of age.

The gangs operate mainly in elementary and secondary schools in their neighborhoods, assaulting students and holding up anyone walking on the streets. They have adopted names like “Los Sur 13,” “Los Garrobos” (Iguanas), “Zapata 18” and “Los Galeanos.” According to mothers of students, the conflicts between rival gangs affect many innocent kids because the gang members really have no concern for who is hurt or killed during their confrontations. Parents feel that both the school system and the local police have been ignoring the problem. Gang threats appear to be the main cause of absenteeism in the secondary schools in the affected neighborhoods.

Novedades Acapulco points out that the gang phenomenon among teenagers in poor communities is the result of family disintegration, deprivation, domestic violence and other local social problems. “When you don’t have much to live for, you do what you need to do to be accepted. You use drugs, carry weapons, and die if you have to,” said psychologist Alberto Martínez Flores, who is studying the gang phenomenon.

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