Gangs are rampant all across the four corners of the globe and among all these gangs, there are a few that remain to be a cut above the rest. One such gang is Barrio 18 hailing from Central America. The gang is considered as one of the most violent and brutal gangs to date and crossing paths with a few members of this group is bad business.
Barrio 18 is also called several names including 18th Street Gang, Calle 18, La18, and Mara-18. One common indicator that one is a member of the Barrio 18 is if they have the number 18 tattooed somewhere on their body. In some cases, the tattoos cover their face.
The gang does not discriminate when it comes to who they want to recruit; race and age are never an issue when joining the game. There are reportedly tens of thousands of members in Los Angeles alone but the gang's main turf is in El Salvador.
Like their rival gang, MS-13, Barrio 18 also has its own set of traditions, beliefs, and rituals that set it apart from other gangs. For Barrio 18, some of their rituals are too much to bear and it shows just how ruthless this organized crime group is. Here are 15 of the terrifying rituals of the Barrio 18.
15 Initiation Is An 18-Second Beating
Getting in gangs isn't as easy as filling up a form online. Many organized crime groups force their applicants to undergo a rigorous initiation process first. For the Barrio 18, their initiation ritual is simple; the applicant must withstand an 18-second beating from several muscle-bound members of the gang. It's as hard as it sounds as the members never hold back.
It's a similar process with the MS-13's gang initiation rites but this time, applicants have to hold out for 5-seconds more. During the beating, the Barrio 18 members are free to do whatever they want to the applicant so long as they don't use weapons. This rite of passage leads to various injuries since the beatings happen bare knuckled. The chances of dying during the process are of course there. Numerous blows to the heads can lead to concussions or worse.
14 Killing A Member Of MS-13 Is A Must
The Barrio 18 is the bitter rival of the MS-13. Both groups are terrifying in their own right and there are cases wherein the two groups go head to head in a battle to the death in neighborhoods. Even if a person isn't aligned with any gangs, the dangers are still relatively high in El Salvador. This bitter rivalry stems from the fact that both gangs want the top spot in Central America.
For the Barrio 18, killing a member of the MS-13 is a must to stay in the group, though we are sure that the MS-13 follows this ritual as well. In their case, it's the Barrio 18 that needs to be killed. Killing a member of the opposing gang is of course rewarding. It's because of this senseless ritual that the killings never stop between the two rival gangs.
13 Members Need To Isolate Themselves From Non-Members (Even Family)
Mothers and fathers who are members of the Barrio 18 often bring their children into the equation by encouraging them to join the gang. This is one of the reasons why the gang's population continues to grow despite the efforts of the government to stop this. Despite this sick practice of bringing in family members to join the gang, there are still some families who are opposed to having their relatives join the gang.
In cases like this, members are often isolated from their family members. For these members, the Barrio 18 gang members are the closest thing they have as a family since their actual family is against their membership to the infamous gang. Having members whose family are against the gang spells trouble for the Barrio 18 as the family could be a source of information for the police and that's why isolation from them is required.
12 Young Members Are Told To Kill MS-13 Members Without Explanation
There are many things known about the Barrio 18. They are one of the most ruthless gangs in El Salvador. They are violent and they don't discriminate when it comes to their crimes. But perhaps one of the most popular facts about the Barrio 18 is the violent turf war they have with the MS-13. This war has taken the lives of countless members and non-members who were caught in the middle of the conflict.
This ongoing gang war has been happening for years on end. Even the youngest members of the Barrio 18 are getting in on the war from time to time. What's terrifying about it is the fact that young members aren't oriented about why they should hate the MS-13. All they're told is to kill the opposing gang members. It's as if they were robots designed simply to kill the other gang.
11 Murder Is A Duty
As with most gangs, members of the Barrio 18 must follow a strict set of rules to be members of the gang. Breaking the rules would, of course, lead to punishment that is sometimes as harsh as the crimes that the Barrio 18 commit. The gang's rules include basic instructions such as giving respect to their leaders and so on.
For Barrio 18 gang members, murder is not prohibited. In fact, members consider murder as a duty. Murder is especially more welcome if the victim of the murder is a member of the MS-13. There's a reason why the Barrio 18 is one of the most violent gangs in the world and the fact that they think very little of murder reveals just how twisted members have become.
10 Parents Who Are Members Encourage Their Kids To Join
What kind of parent would want their sons or daughters to live such a horrible life? For Barrio 18 members who also happen to be parents, having sons and daughters join the gang is an honor. Thanks to this practice, it's almost certain that the Barrio 18 will stay for decades to come because the gang members themselves become the source of the future members.
What about the brutal initiation rights, you ask? Parents watch their offspring go through this 18-second ordeal without hesitation. Even worse is the fact that these parents already know what happens in the gang and yet they still choose this life for their kids.
Still, there are some parents who prefer a different life for their kids so once they have children, they leave the gang immediately. Leaving the gang is a hard option though as it's hard to fit in society after joining the Barrio 18.
9 Gang Indoctrination Begins As Young As 4 Years Old
Each of the gangs in their world has a moniker given to them for their heinous acts or trademarks. Some gangs are proud of these nicknames and even wear them like prized jewelry. As for the Barrio 18, one of the nicknames for the gang is the 'Children's Army.' The story behind the nickname is as scary as the nickname itself.
The Barrio 18 does not discriminate when choosing members. The gang members recruit young children to their group without hesitation. This includes middle and grade schoolers. That's not the worst though as members of the gang indoctrinate kids who have even yet to have complete thoughts. Some children as young as 4-years old in neighborhoods owned by the Barrio 18 can be seen flashing the gang's sign. It's sad that the future has been already laid out for these toddlers.
8 Women Are Tasked With Many Crimes Because They Are "Less Suspicious"
Out of all the members of the Barrio 18 gang, the most active ones could be the women. Though the female members aren't put to the forefront when it comes to the turf war with the MS-13, they still work endlessly behind the limelight and female members are often tasked with many crimes because according to the male members, women are "less suspicious" with criminal activities.
The crimes of the female gang members aren't fully committed to murdering others but their crimes are of great help to the gang itself still. Some of the crimes they commit include acting as drug mules, smuggling many forms of good into jails and carrying a firearm in public areas. Aside from this, female members are also tasked with gathering Intel on the other gang. This is a very dangerous task and one mistake could lead to horrible repercussions.
7 Members Are Punished If They Forget To Show Respect To A Gang Leader
Most of the organized gang groups such as the Yakuza, MS-13 and Barrio 18 have a structure within their group. This organizational structure determines the members who are a cut above the rest and as with many gang structures, respect to gang leaders and members is a must in Barrio 18. Even the slightest hint of disrespect leads to violent repercussions for members.
The common punishment for members forgetting to show respect to another member is an 18-second beating by several other members of the gang. The punishment is way worse for those that forget to show respect to high-ranking gang members of the Barrio 18. Death is, of course, part of the many possible punishments but this is reserved for more serious cases. Still, this form of punishment reveals just how vicious members are even among themselves as they are willing to hurt or kill their brethren even at small signs of disrespect.
6 Women Serve Dual Roles
Membership in the Barrio 18 gang isn't limited to men alone. Women are also part of the equation. The MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs have similar treatment of their female members. In this gang, women are expected to serve dual roles. What this basically means is that women are given roles fitted for both male and female.
For their female roles, women are expected to take care of their husbands. This includes cooking, cleaning, and other things. For their male roles, women are expected to wear clothing that is more fit for men. In worst cases, women are forced to withstand and perpetrate violent acts. Some gangs treat women as property of the members. It's horrible that the female gang members have to go through so much more as compared to the male gang members but even before joining the gang, they are already well aware of the risks and implications.
5 Members Are Taught To Feel Nothing Towards Victims
With the Barrio 18 being one of the biggest criminal groups in the world, members have to feel no remorse for the crimes they commit. If they do feel remorse, then they'll have trouble doing whatever it is they're set out to do. The gang members do not discriminate when it comes to who is their would-be victims so elderly people, children and everyone else aren't safe from the terrors of the gang.
For gang members, feeling remorse towards their victims means they are weak. Weakness isn't a trait of the Barrio 18 members so they are taught to be tough and heartless. The people of El Salvador and other areas with Barrio 18 members are always afraid of what's to come and sometimes their safest bet is to make friends with the gang members themselves.
4 Full-Face Tattoos Are Common
Gangs do the craziest things to get distinguished from other gangs. The most basic form of being distinguishable is for the Bloods and Crips gang wherein they wear red and blue clothing respectively. Gangs such as the MS-13 and the Barrio 18 take it to a different level though by having tattoos that more or less cement their lives as gang members.
For Barrio 18 members, it's common to have the number 18 tattooed all over the body. This is one of the key trademarks of the gang and it's similar to the one that the MS-13 practices but instead of 13, they tattoo 18 on their bodies. In more extreme cases, members have the number tattooed literally all over their face.
3 A Trademark For The Murders Is Dismemberment
The Barrio 18 get into all sorts of crime including drug trafficking, robbery and of course murder. As compared to the MS-13, the Barrio 18 are more feared for their crimes. The group is considered as one of the most violent gangs in the world and it's likely because of their trademark brutality when it comes to the murders they commit.
Barrio 18 members don't simply leave their victims to die out in the streets. In most cases, the Barrio 18 members brutally murder their victims in an array of ways. After that, they dismember the body and scatter it around the vicinity. As if the killing wasn't enough, Barrio 18 also tend to desecrate the bodies of their victims to the point of making them unrecognizable.
2 A Strict Set Of Rules Must Be Followed To Avoid Being Killed
As with any other organized gangs, the Barrio 18 gives their members a set of rules to follow. The world is yet to know what the rules of the Barrio 18 are and it's very likely that the gang is keeping it a secret from everyone else. What we do know for now is that the set of rules include basic gang codes like respecting gang leaders and other members.
The punishments vary for each offense broken and in worst cases, members who break rules are executed without hesitation. If a member thinks that the rules are too much and they are considering living the gang, they are either killed or let go. If they are let go, a harder life lies ahead as it would be hard for them to get accepted by the society. Barrio 18 gang members also don't help out members who decide to leave so these members are left to fend for themselves in the world outside of their gang.
1 Copious Amounts Of MJ Are Given To Members
As expected, the Barrio 18 is a gang that centers around drug abuse and trafficking. As with most gangs in the world, drug smuggling is one of the main networks for profit for the Barrio 18. Joining the gang gives members access to a slew of "benefits" that cause more harm than good to their bodies. With drugs being at the center of Barrio 18, members always have access to copious amounts of marijuana.
No one is yet to determine just how much marijuana Barrio 18 members have access to but many believe that members can easily gain access to it whenever they want. Members aren't free from taking any drugs they want though as their set of rules allegedly prohibits the taking of hard drugs such as crack cocaine.