Posts

Law enforcement agencies have long used tattoos as a means to identify victims of crimes and accidents.

They’re also an effective tool for identifying members of various gangs who use body art as symbols of their membership to those groups. For example, the number 88 is a numeric symbol for “Heil Hitler” used by white supremacists.

Or, MS 13, also sometimes tattooed simply as MS or 13, are the symbols of the Mara Salvatrucha gang that got its start in Los Angeles by immigrants from El Salvador. This violent unorganized gang, well-known for dealing drugs, child prostitution, and brutal murders, now has MS-13 chapters all over the U.S. and Canada.

But, the FBI has taken tattoo identification, a program called TAG IMAGE, a bit further by attempting to use tattoos as a means to map out people’s relationships and even identifying their religious beliefs. The musical or artistic interests and/or hobbies are also targets to record. Favorite food, drink, actors, loved ones, and so on. The list is practically endless.

The Intoxicated Waskly Wabbit

This collection of information could be a bit concerning depending upon your point of view, and all based upon the tattoo of, during a night of heavy drinking, you had the image of a Waskly Wabbitt inked on the part of your body that somehow draws the attention of authorities.

Using a particular marking on the skin as a means of identifying human remains, or as a way to establish a prisoner’s gang affiliation is one thing. But to the use those identifiers on living people to establish  their religious or political leanings, for example, and then to  lump them into those categories for future reference, perhaps rises to a level of government overreach—an invasion of privacy. A violation of civil liberties.

In addition, the opportunities to misinterpret a person’s body ink is great, furthering the chances of violating the rights of individuals. For example, we’re all familiar with the swasitka, which, prior to adoption by the Nazis who forever tainted it, was symbol of prosperity, goodness, and hope.

Swirling Logs

Many Native Americans used the “swastika” symbol (swirling logs, or four directions cross)  as a means to depict peace and harmony, the polar opposite of how many view it in today’s society.

Suppose a police officer arrested a Native American basketball player who, at the time of the apprehension for a minor assault, wore his team jersey. Well, based upon the FBI’s controversial and perhaps civil rights-violating new practice, the ball-playing nose-puncher could be lumped into a known violent group which could add the additional charge of a federal hate crime.

Chilocco (Oklahoma) basketball team. The swastika was once a common symbol used by Native Americans. It had absolutely nothing to do with the Nazi party.

Furthermore, merely having a gang-related tattoo inked onto a person’s body doesn’t always indicate that the individual is a member of the gang associated with the marking. Kids today sometimes think such images are “cool” and head off to the nearest tattoo shop to permanently stencil the shape or lettering onto their skin. In fact, anyone with basic tattooing knowledge could do it for them.

The DIY Approach

Some use the DIY approach using the old “stick and poke” method. To do so, all that’s needed to accomplish the task are either sewing needles, straight pins, or safety pins, India ink, a marker to draw the outline of the tattoo, and a lot of nerve.

The tactic is easy. Dip the sharp object into the ink and then stick the pin into the skin until you feel a “pop” when it breaks through the skin. Repeat the process over and over again until you’ve successfully inked the object outlined on your body part.

Misidentification

Another way cops could misidentify someone as a gang member is forced tattooing, such as tattooing women against their will as a means of marking them after abducting and brutally raping them.

TAG IMAGE

TAG IMAGE  is a wonderful tool for identification of various tattoos; however, attempting to lump individuals into a particular criminal organization based on any image found tattooed on a person body could be a dangerous path to follow.

After all, having a tattoo of a famous Mouse on your upper arm doesn’t mean you’re a member of the notorious rat’s Club.

Well, maybe …

“M.I.C. … K.E.Y.

M.O.U.S.E.”

Two gang members, Pooky and Slasher, decided to seek a bit of revenge against a rival gang member named Ragu, a behemoth creature who they swore was Bigfoot disguised as a human. The root of the plot kicked off when the man disrespected the pair of tough guys at the town’s 4th of July picnic. It seems that Ragu’s melting ice cream cone dropped a clump of chocolate ripple smack dab on Slasher’s brand new firehouse red Chuck Taylors, staining the uppers a color that strangely reminded Pooky of pistachio, his favorite flavor.

Since Ragu weighed just north of 265 with none of those pounds being of the porker variety. Nope. All muscle. So they came up with an end-around. They’d kill Ragu’s father, the thin and wiry, hatchet-faced accountant who worked at Petey Perkins’ Hardware store next to the Piggly Wiggly out on Rte. 1.

After a couple of days of planning and surveillance, the wannabe murderers decided to smother the Ichabod Crane lookalike while he slept. And they’d use his own pillow as the murder weapon. Everyone knew the old beanpole suffered from a serious hacking and wheezing case of emphysema, the direct result of puffing away at cigarettes, one behind the other, for the past forty years or so. No one, especially that goofball police chief, Pooky’d said, would ever connect them to the killing.

Exactly three days later, at precisely 2:12 a.m., Slasher and Pooky slipped through a window and into the home of Ragu and his father. It was dark, warm, and humid. Slasher’s Hannah Montana t-shirt was wet with sweat and clung to his flesh like a surfer’s wetsuit. Pooky on the other hand, was the cool one. But only so because he was too stupid to know that murder was, at the very least, a heart-pounder of epic proportion. So basically dumb, not cool. However, in spite of not perspiring, when happy, Pooky’s feet took on the combined stench of sour milk and burnt asparagus. This was one of those nights.

The two tiptoed through the dining room and then a hallway that led to the stairs. Up they went. They’d watched the place at night and had learned the location of the old man’s bedroom and that’s where they were headed, down the upstairs hall and to the right.

Two minutes later they were standing in the dark beside the accountant’s bed. Thirty seconds after that, with Pooky on one end and Slasher on the other, they shoved the spare pillow over the face of Ragu, Sr. Two minutes passed without so much as a peep or a wiggle from their victim. Slasher eased up his end of the pillow. In the nearly dark room, with only a sliver of creamy moonlight smeared across his forehead, the guy looked absolutely dead, so Slasher released his grip on his end of the pillow and Pooky tossed it on the floor.

The dead was done. Revenge was sweet.

Four hours later, the rail-thin accountant awakened from his sleep and slipped the nasal mask from his nose. The other end of its flexible plastic hose was attached to the CPAP machine sitting on the nightstand beside his bed. He reached to switch of the machine that pumps forced air from the room into his nose, sort of like a scuba diving apparatus for people who snore horribly and often stop breathing in short bursts while sleeping.

While reaching for the switch he saw an overturned bottle of Trazadone, the powerful sleeping medication prescribed his doctor. He’d had insomnia since he was a kid. Nowadays he wins that battle by having two shots of orange-flavored vodka and a sleeping pill one hour before hitting the sack. At the end of that hour he’d best be in the bed because for the next several hours he’d be almost comatose. Lights out. An earthquake wouldn’t wake him.

So each night, there he lay, on his back with a constant supply of fresh air zooming into his lungs. Therefore, the actions of Slasher and Pooky were entirely in vain, and they were wholeheartedly surprised to see their “murder” victim greeting them with a cheery “Good morning!” when they entered the hardware store to purchase more ammunition for their Daisy BB guns. That’d planned to go shoot a few cans down by the creek after school. But, after seeing a very healthy and living and breathing dad of Ragu, they decided to come up with a plan B. So off they went, riding their bikes toward a setting sun.

So, I suppose the moral to this super-silly tale is to always be certain the victim in your tales is not wearing a CPAP mask, drunk, and on powerful sedatives when the villain strikes.

Hmmm … mask, drunk, and on powerful sedatives. And I promised to never mention politics and politicians on this site.

Oh well.

There are street gangs and there are street gangs, but the violent, international MS13 gang takes a backseat to no other when it comes to cruelty to other humans. In fact, to join MS13, prospective gang members must endure a brutal 13-second beating (a “beat-in”) by other gang members. Females are fortunate. They have the option of being beaten or gang-raped. Another step in the initiation is to kill a rival gang member or someone randomly selected by the gang.

Mara Salvatrucha (MS13)

The gang name is derived from La Mara, a street gang in San Salvador.  The word “Mara” translates as “gang” in English. Salvatrucha comes from the Salvatrucha guerrillas who fought in the Salvadoran Civil War.

To become full-fledged members and to earn the title of “homeboys” (after a “probationary period of sorts), “chequos,” or mid-level MS13 members are “jumped in.”

Jumping in is a two-step process—chequos must commit at least one murder of a rival gang member. Afterward, they’re voted in, if approved, and this is when gang leaders would very slowly count to thirteen while other gang members beat the chequos. This, the beat-in, is not a fraternity hazing. Instead, the beatings are often extremely severe.

When the beat-in is complete, members often display the familiar devil horn hand sign, a gesture they borrowed from fans of heavy metal music.

MS13 clique leaders are known as “palabreros.” Loosely translated, the word means “those who have the word.”

As a full-fledged member, the new homeboys join the other gang members during their everyday routines of selling drugs, smuggling weapons and people, prostitution, car theft, extortion, armed robbery, and murder. Lots of murder.

MS13 has attempted to get a foot in the drug-dealing business but they’ve faile to do so on a large scale. The gang has no formal leader and operates in pockets within Mexico, the U.S., Canada, and Central America.

Members of those pockets (cliques, or “clicas” in Spanish) tend to show their loyalty to those smaller groups rather than the overall “organization,” which translates into enough disorganization to make organized drug-dealing nearly impossible. Therefore, they stick to more localized crime. However, the gang is very large and extremely deadly. Murder is a priority.

There is an attempt at organization, though, between the leaders who’re currently incarcerated and those on the street. Together, they try to control the major “hits,” such as the orders to kill police officers and other officials. Still, they are not formally organized, with most activity occurring within the smaller clicas.


“Of the 506 gang members arrested or charged in connection with crimes, 207 were charged with murder and 100 others were accused of conspiracy or racketeering, and “dozens of others” were accused of sex trafficking, attempted murder, sexual assault, extortion, and drug trafficking.” ~ from a report by Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. (February 28, 2018). The report was based on a study of just over 500 MS13 gang members arrested since 2012.


The extreme activities of MS13 have helped make what some call the Northern Triangle—Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—the most violent place in the world that’s not currently at war.

Leaving the gang, for whatever reason, proves to be impossible in some cliques because the penalty for desertions is immediate death.

MS13 has between 50,000 and 70,000 members

 

To name only a scant few of the MS13 horrors, in 2017, MS13 gang members were responsible for:

  • Venus Romero Iraheta, 17, tortured and killed a 15-year-old girl because he didn’t approve of her boyfriend, also an MS-13 gang member. Gang members filmed the torture and stabbing death.
  • Two MS-13 gang members (Miguel Alvarez-Flores and Diego Hernandez-Rivera) who, by the way, were illegally staying in the U.S., were charged with kidnapping, torturing and shooting a teenage girl. According to court records, the gang members killed the girl because she insulted their satanic rituals and a shrine.
  • Three MS-13 gang members were charged with the murder of 17-year-old Raymond Wood, who’s body was been mutilated by the gang members. They stabbed Wood sixteen times, ran over his body, and then removed his hands.

*Please don’t be alarmed. The following image is not of a real hand. It’s a staged photo. But please do imagine the very real fear experienced by those who’ve faced death, torture, and dismemberment at the hands of MS13 gang members.

  • Hector Lazo, 18, and Pedro Rivera, 23 were arrested for the murder of 37-year-old Nelson Rodriguez. Officers said Rivera shot Rodriguez in the back of the head while simply walking in the street.
  • Two teenage boys and an 11-year-old girl were shot at an apartment complex by two MS13 gang members. The shooting of the two boys was gang-related. The shooting of the girl was accidental.
  • MS13 gang members are responsible for the deaths of eleven people on Long Island. The victims were hacked to death with machetes. Their bodies were then horribly mutilated by gang members using those same edged weapons.
  • Best friends Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas were brutally murdered by MS13 gang members. It was the day before her 16th birthday when Nisa Mickens’ brutally beaten body was found in Brentwood, N.Y. The badly beaten body of 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas was discovered in a nearby wooded backyard.

To kill the two girls, MS-13 gang members used bats and machetes. Cuevas was the target of the hit because she had apparently feuded with some gang members on social media. Mickens, who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, was so badly beaten around her head and face that she was barely recognizable.

Machetes are often used to kill because laws aren’t as strict as those governing firearms. And, because of the massive damage they’re able to inflict when used against a human body.

  • Three Long Island MS-13 gang members were arrested for the attempted murder of a 19-year man. During the attack, the gang members used a machete to slash the victim’s stomach. Then they shot him.
  • New York Police charged three MS-13 gang members with the assault and attempted murder of a rival gang member. The victim was brutally beaten and shot in the head. The victim is now a paraplegic as a result of the attack.
  • MS13 gang member Carlos Gonzalez is wanted in connection to the death of his 25-year-old girlfriend Maritza Lopez. Police found Lopez dead in her bedroom closet with gunshot wounds to the chest and head.
  • MS-13 has directed its members to “take out a cop.” The gang member suspected of putting out the hit order is a tall, light-skinned Hispanic man with a thin build and a tattoo of three dots next to one of his eyes. The order is the assignment of any and all members. They simply want a cop, any cop, to die. The purpose of murdering a law enforcement officer is to send a signal to police, telling them to back away from arresting gang members. Killing cops is what they do in other countries when they feel police are closing in.

*Top photo – FBI

Each year as a means to help support the mega-beast known as the Writers’ Police Academy, the event features a raffle and silent auction. It’s fun. Really fun.

Well, since we tend to offer some unusual items not typically available anywhere else, and after receiving so many requests to allow non-attendees to participate in the auction, we pondered the idea and, in 2016, decided to offer a few items for sealed bids. The move was a huge success, thanks to each of you!

Sealed Bid Auction – Open to Everyone!

This year we’re offering five exciting items for sealed bids. These are available to the public, therefore anyone and everyone is welcome to participate.

How Do I …

  • To win the prize/item you so badly desire, simply send your bids to 2017WPAuction@gmail.com.

  • Type BID in the subject line along with with the name of the item, e.g. BID Guitar or BID Script or  BID Critique, etc.

  • In the body of the message please state the dollar amount of your bid (e.g. – “My bid for the signed guitar is $1 Zillion Dollars.”).

Also, please include your full contact information.


Bids will remain a secret until bidding closes at midnight PST, Saturday August 12, 2017. You need not be present at the WPA to win. Attendees of the 2017 may submit sealed auction bids as well, and the same rules apply.


Sealed bids are in addition to the raffle and silent auction items available at the event. You must be present to participate in the raffle and silent auction.


And now … The Items …

 

Oak Ridge Boys – Signed Guitar and CD

A guitar and CD signed by the legendary Grammy-winning Oak Ridge Boys. This unique item is a wonderful addition to any room in the house. I have one in our den, a gift from my wife who, by the way, spent big bucks for it at the auction. Superstar author Lee Child placed the winning bid a few years ago and he, too, has one of these signed beauties in his Manhattan office. WPA instructor/Detective Marco Conelli is another owner of one of these prized guitars. (In case you didn’t know, Marco is also a singer-songwriter/frontman for his own band in NYC).


Murder, She Wrote – Signed Script

Murder, She Wrote script signed by head writer/showrunner Thomas B. Sawyer. Tom also served as Head Writer/Showrunner or Producer on 15 network TV series. He has sold and written TV movies, 9 series pilots, 100 episodes, both comedy and drama. This script is a must-have prize of epic proportion, especially so for Murder, She Wrote fans, and writers of all genres.


Seat at a “For Law Enforcement ONLY” Gang Conference

This is HUGE! We have two seats available to a “law enforcement only” gang conference.
Police K-9That’s right, for the first time EVER, two lucky writers will have the opportunity learn and train side-by-side with top police investigators, all at a conference where outsiders are not permitted. That’s right, you’d be the ONLY writer privy to insider information about developing and maintaining confidential informants—gang-related, so this is especially tough for cops—human trafficking, how gangs infiltrate communities, Asian gangs, gangs and social media, and much, much more. This is a rare and EXCITING OPPORTUNITY that’s not available to the public.


A Complete Pond for Your Home

Cool indoor/outdoor pond.

A pond! No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. We have available for you a wonderful indoor/outdoor pond. It stands appr. 2-feet tall and appr. 4-feet across (appr. 40-50 gallons). The pond comes with everything you need. Well, you’ll have to supply water, plants, and fish, of course, but the rest—pump, liner, filters, plant baskets, light kits, etc.—are included in this package. Denene and I have one and we love everything about it, from the soothing sounds of the fountain to watching and feeding the goldfish to watching hummingbirds bathe beneath the fountain spray. This pond (retail value over $500) is absolutely COOL! Ours has provided countless hours of joy for us, especially seeing hummingbirds zip in to drink from the fountain spray and to bathes beneath the shower. It’s perfect for indoors as well. We’ve arranged to have the pond shipped directly to you from the warehouse (Assembly is required – takes approximately one hour and is remarkably simple. Hey, I did it).


Manuscript Critique by Top Harlequin Editor!

Ann Leslie Tuttle, Senior Editor at Harlequin Books is offering a critique of a synopsis and first chapter (up to 25 pages). How exciting, and what a wonderful means to place your work on the desk of a top editor!

ABOUT ANN LESLIE TUTTLE

Ann Leslie is actively acquires for HQN Books, MIRA and Harlequin/Silhouette Books, she is especially interested in finding paranormal romance and commercial literary fiction. Ann Leslie has acquired trade, hardcover and mass market titles with critical and bestselling potential. Edits an diverse author base, including NYT, USA Today and international bestselling authors Sylvia Day, Julia London, Megan Hart, Vanessa Fewings, Lisa Renee Jones and Rachael Johns. She manages lines of contemporary romance and special projects, including e-books. She is a popular speaker at writer conferences, including the Australia and New Zealand conferences in 2015.

**FINE PRINT**

The manuscript will be of standard manuscript formatting.  The names of the winners will be provided by the WPA to Jenna Kernan who will let Ann Leslie Tuttle know to expect your material for critique

*This prize was acquired by author Jenna Kernan for WPA.


When does this cool opportunity begin?

Right NOW! Yes, you are free to begin submitting bids this very moment. So … GOOD LUCK!! And, yes, we still have a few available spots at the Writers’ Police Academy. See you soon.


Special Notice!

To add to the fun, we will also be hosting a live auction of a few special items. Tami Hoag (that’s right, THE Tami Hoag) is the 2017 auctioneer. She is joined by author JD Allen. This is going to be a real hoot! Details coming soon.


Proceeds are combined with overall WPA funds and go toward overall event expenses, the opening ceremonies (featuring the blessing of the WPA by the Oneida Nation dancers, Miss Oneida, tribal elders), and a student scholarship funded by the WPA. Remember, the WPA takes place on the Oneida Indian Reservation (hotel, academy, and college).

*Winners will be notified by email. We will attempt to contact winners three times (one every other day, starting on August15, 2017), so please check your spam folders. If we do not receive a reply with five day after the third message is sent we will move on to the next highest bidder, and so on until the prize is claimed. Funds to secure bids must be made via WPA PayPal. Once we’ve established contact with the winners we will provide payment details. Items will ship/can be claimed once payment is received.