Victim of MS-13 Gang Violence Speaks Out
WESLACO – The Rio Grande Valley is no stranger to the gangs and violence from Central America.
In the month of October alone, U.S. Border Patrol arrested a handful of Mara Salvatrucha gang members in the U.S.-Mexico border area.
Glenda Diaz is one of the thousands of victims from the group. She’s only 35 years old but has suffered beyond her years.
Diaz said she's experienced loss, terror, physical and emotional pain. Her two siblings were killed by MS-13 gang members after refusing to join the group.
She was shot and suffered multiple wounds after being attacked by MS-13 members in her home country.
“I suffered a lot. I had multiple surgeries. I almost went into a coma. I've suffered a lot and that's why I don't want to go back," said Diaz.
Angel Gabriel Reyes-Marroquin helped lead MS-13 in a town near Guatemala City. He was reportedly arrested over the weekend. It is violence like the one Reyes-Marroquin heads that led Diaz to flee her country with her oldest son after two years of deliberation.
She left behind her 4-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. Diaz said she feared her eldest would be forced to join MS-13 or be killed.
Sister Norma Pimentel with Catholic Charities RGV has heard countless stories from people passing through the Rio Grande Valley after fleeing gangs and violence.
"They go through so much danger along the way in the journey and yet they're willing to risk that, because they know staying home means possibly the greatest fear is losing their children," said Pimentel.
Scott Stewart with Stratfor said he witnessed the violence in Central America.
He said the gangs are involved in “retail, drug sales, extortion, prostitution, cargo theft, carjackings” and they “do not hesitate, to kill people, to use violence if they don't get what they want."
Stewart said the organization operates as cliques. The gang's influence and operation style mean taking down a leader wouldn't cause disruption in the strength of the gang as a whole.
In spite of that, Stewart does emphasize the potential for violence as members vie for the top position Reyes-Marroquin once held.