A 'friendly' beating is an initiation into a gang
Al Jazeera will give you an exclusive look into what Central Americans consider to be their biggest security threat: Gangs. The violence stemming from gang culture has reached epidemic proportions. It touches El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Belize and even the United States.

Gangs rule the streets in the poor communities of Central America. Death and despair reign. Making matters worse, there is little hope for those who want to leave the gangs. We will introduce you to gang members, their initiation rites, and their way of life.

Gang violence has even caught the attention of the US Federal Bureau of Investigations. It formed a national task force to combat the gangs whose presence is felt in 40 states.

The gangs have deep roots in the US. They started more than two decades ago as an outgrowth of a wave of immigrants fleeing civil war in Central America.

Gangs bodies are branded with codes they live by
But these days the US is aggressively deporting many convicted gang members back to their native countries, even though they may never have lived in Central America and have no roots in the communities into which they are suddenly thrown.

The arrival of gang members deported from the US is only fuelling Central America's gang culture.

Making matters worse, if a gang member wants to leave their gang they are often 'greenlighted' - marked for death. So, many gang members either end up behind bars or shackled to a gang they no longer believe in.

We will introduce you to some of these gang members and let them tell their own story.

Watch Part One of the programme here:

 

Watch Part Two of the programme here:

 

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