Police arrest Mara 18 leader tasked with starting gang activity in Spain

Man known as ‘The Mexican’ detained while setting up extortion, kidnapping and trafficking ring

The suspect's tattooed back, in a police shot.
The suspect's tattooed back, in a police shot.

Spain’s National Police force has arrested a man known as ‘The Mexican’ on suspicion of being one of the leaders of the international criminal organization known as Mara 18. He is thought to have been tasked with starting a new chapter of the violent gang in Spain.

The organization’s main sources of income include extortion (especially of businesspeople and store owners), express kidnappings, gun and drug trafficking, and squatting in buildings that are later illegally leased to tenants. The individual, who was arrested in the Madrid suburb of Leganés, will remain in custody until his deportation from Spain.

The Mara 18 chief was carrying a fake ID when he was arrested

The Mara gang began in the 1980s in the United States, born out of social marginalization, family conflicts and petty crime. They are organized via a system of chapters, or “clicas” – groups of 25 to 50 young people who have chosen crime as a way of life. Though the first members were from El Salvador, Maras have now spread to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.

The investigation that led to The Mexican’s arrest was a joint effort between the Spanish National Police and law enforcement agencies in Honduras and El Salvador. According to their findings, Mara 18 leaders had instructed their members in Spain to start an active chapter in the country.

When investigators identified and located The Mexican, he already had several legal claims against him. The Mara 18 chief was carrying a fake ID when he was arrested. According to the police, he had committed fraud in order to obtain documents for a legal stay in Spain. The investigation into his activities in Spain remains open.

English version by Dyane Jean François.


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