Jurors hearing a Virginia murder case against four members of the gang Mara Salvatrucha — also called MS-13 — heard a vivid inside account of how the gang works, plays, and brutally enforces its rules, says the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In five hours of testimony, former gang member Stephanie Schwab described a life marked by parties fueled by drugs and beer during which gang members tattooed one another with homemade kits. Petty crimes such as car thefts and vandalism were the norm, gang rapes were common, and members of rival gangs were subject to violent, random beatings.
The four gang members are accused of killing a girl, 17, who died four weeks after voluntarily leaving federal witness protection. Schwab, 19, said she joined the gang after she ran away from home at age 12. Schwab provided a glossary of gang code. Police are called “dogs,” “homeboy” means gang member and weapons are referred to as “guitars.” Schwab, now married and the mother of two children, left the gang last year. “I just think it’s all dumb now,” she said.