MS-13 gang tattoos are emblazoned all over the face of the latest addition to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list, as the Lone Star State continues to be plagued by violence at the hands the brutal and ruthless El Salvadoran gang.
The trademark tattoos of MS-13 gang members may be the very tool Texas law enforcement uses to track down the deadly criminal.
“Authorities in the Lone Star State are hoping the listing's newest add won't be tough to find: A gang member whose face is literally branded with ‘MS-13,’” Fox News reported. “The Texas Department of Public Safety said Thursday that a cash reward up to $7,500 is being offered for information leading to the capture of 34-year-old Rodrigo Flores.”
Rap sheet typical of Latino gang
The criminal history of Flores has state authorities on edge to bring him into custody before he engages in any further violent crimes typical of MS-13 gang members -- who are now spread out throughout the country.
“Flores – who is affiliated with the MS-13 gang – is wanted for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assault of a family/household member, officials said,” Fox News’ Travis Fedschun informed. “Flores subsequently served a five-year prison sentence in Texas and has also spent time in federal prison for drug offenses.”
Unlike many MS-13 gang members apprehended at the United States-Mexico border – such as the 25 members of the gang deported last month from a migrant caravan in Mexico – Flores is native born … from a border town in the Lone Star State.
Authorities with the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) believe there is a good chance Flores is still somewhere close to his birthplace in southwestern Texas.
"Flores was born in El Paso, Texas, and still has ties to the area," TDPS disclosed in a news release last week. "His violent criminal history includes a 2012 conviction of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after an incident in El Paso."
Wanting Texas residents to identify and report the fugitive as soon as possible, TDPS divulged more characteristics of the most wanted MS-13 gang member to the public.
“Flores is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs approximately 180 pounds,” the TDPS release added. “Flores has numerous tattoos on his face, back, chest, neck, hands, arms and legs, as well as a scar on his right forearm. Flores may be known by the nicknames of ‘Scrappy’ and ‘Rigo.’”
Getting MS-13 gangsters off the streets has been a priority of local and federal agents across the nation, as it was reported late last year that a crackdown on the gang in New York City substantially reduced violent crime there, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) insisted last week that it needs more resources to dismantle MS-13 and similar gangs.
Members of the MS-13 gang have been noted by authorities as being capable of the most malicious and horrendous crimes imagineable.
“Investigators say MS-13 gang members stabbed a 16-year-old boy 100 times before setting his body on fire,” Fedschun noted. “Authorities have advised anyone who spots Flores to not attempt to apprehend him, as he is considered to be armed and dangerous.”
The skinny on MS-13
Since transplanting from El Salvador in the 1970s and 1980s to Southern California, MS-13 has consistently made a notorious name for itself with carnage typically seen in horror films.
“Short for Mara Salvatrucha, the gang has become infamous for its brutal killing methods, including beheadings,” NTD News explained.
Robert J. Bunker – an adjunct research professor at the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute – said that the brutality of the gang has escalated over the decades.
“[After Salvadoran immigrants who formed the gang fled to Los Angeles during the civil war in El Salvador] the gang became increasingly violent – drawing upon the Salvadoran wartime experiences of its members and their cultural use of the machete – to protect its members from Mexican-American street gangs and their rival, the hybrid 18th Street gang,” Bunker recounted to The Epoch Times. “MS-13 has created a brand – like Los Zetas in Mexico – based on its reputation for engaging in unspeakable acts of brutality using machete and knife attacks against those that cross it.”
MS-13 gang members have made brutality and violence a business where they have settled down in the U.S.
“This barbaric reputation greatly aids the gang in its collection of street taxes from local merchants and helps it to protect its turf and drug trade against opposing gangs who are afraid to face the ‘street terrorism’ it can wage against them,” Bunker added.
Malicious MS-13 attacks are not reserved to those outside the gang.
“Among recent crimes allegedly committed by MS-13: six members conspired to kill another member they believed was cooperating with law enforcement, and five members allegedly stabbed another member 100 times before dumping his body,” NTD’s Zachary Stieber noted.
Another MS-13 gangster on Texas’ most-wanted list
Flores is not the only MS-13 gang member on the Texas Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list.
“Carlos Alberto Gonzalez-Barahona, 28, is wanted for murder and aggravated kidnapping,” Stieber pointed out. “Other alleged crimes included burglary and illegal entry into the United States after deportation, which is a felony.”
Just like Flores, Gonzalez-Barahona is listed as armed and dangerous and has branded himself similar to other MS-13 gang members.
“[Authorities] noted that the gang member also has a range of tattoos, including ‘Texas’ on the back of his upper right arm and ‘Salvador’ on his abdomen,” Stieber continued. “Gonzalez-Barahona is accused of killing his girlfriend Martiza Lopez, 25, in the summer of 2017. She had a young baby girl at the time.”
Blanca Lopez – the mother of the murdered girlfriend – continues to care for her baby granddaughter as she lives in fear that the alleged murderer will turn up at her front doorstep once again.
“He’s a dangerous guy, also,” the grandmother told KTRK. “I fear for my safety.”
The reward for helping with the capture of Gonzalez-Barahona was actually higher than the one posted for Flores, as The (Huntsville) Item announced that information leading to his arrest increased to $10,000 last November.
But the increased reward did little to bring the dangerous criminal to justice.
“The increased reward was offered in the hopes that it would generate additional tips, but it was only good for November,” Stieber noted. “As of late March, Gonzalez-Barahona was still on the loose.”