Feds’ Secret Sauce to Identify MS-13 Membership Revealed

May 18, 2018
12:44 PM

Originally published at the author’s law firm page.

Law enforcement authorities, particularly the Suffolk County Police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, have stonewalled the public on what criteria they use to classify someone as a member of the MS-13 gang.

Look no further: the secret formula is revealed below. (Tip: just wear no clothes if one is Hispanic and lives in Suffolk County.)

“…the defendant has tattoos symbolizing his membership in the MS-13, including a skull on his left hand and the “three dots” on his left wrist, which, in sum and substance, symbolize the cemetery, prison and hospital, the three places MS-13 members will end up. Still further, at the time of his arrest, the defendant was wearing blue and white clothing, which is another symbol of MS-13 membership…

“MS-13 colors are generally blue and white, sometimes with the number “13”; MS-13 members and associates are not permitted to wear the color red, the color of MS-13’s chief rival, the 18th Street gang. MS-13 members often wear Nike Cortez sneakers, in white or blue, to signify their MS-13 membership.”

“Members also signified their membership through tattoos of devil horns in various places on their bodies. Members and associates sometimes avoided conspicuous MS-13 tattoos, instead wearing discreet ones such as “503,” spider webs, three dots in a triangle formation signifying “mi vida loca,” or clown faces with phrases such as “laugh now, cry later.”

“The gang colors of MS-13 were blue, black, and white, and members often wore clothing, particularly sports jerseys, with the number ” 13,” or with numbers that, when added together, totaled 13, such as “76.”

“As with tattoos, some MS-13 members and associates have selected more discreet ways of dressing in order to signify their membership and at the same time, avoid detection by law enforcement.”

Recap as to how one can be “identified” by law enforcement as a member of MS-13:

  1. Wearing clothing with any combination of blue and white or blue, white, and black.
  2. Wearing clothing or having tattoos that contain the numbers 503.
  3. Wearing Nike Cortez shoes.
  4. Wearing a sports jersey.
  5. Wearing a sports jersey with the number 13 or any combination that adds up to thirteen (see number 10)
  6. Wearing clothing or having tattoos of a spider web.
  7. Wearing clothing or having tattoos with three dots.
  8. Wearing clothing or having tattoos with a clown face.
  9. Wearing clothing or having tattoos with the phrase or something similar to “laugh now, cry later.”
  10. Wearing clothing with any combination of numbers that add up to 13 i.e. 76; 85; 94; 103; 112; 67; 58; 49; 310; 112; 211; 130; and so on.
  11. Wearing clothing or having tattoos that contain horns.
  12. Wearing clothing with a skull or having a tattoo of a skull.

For original sources, see below:


Bryan Johnson is a partner at the law firm of Amoachi and Johnson, PLLC in New York. His office represents over 300 Central American children in fighting their deportation by securing permanent legal protection through asylum and special immigrant juvenile status.