A Tattoo That Solved A Mystery


Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 is an international crime syndicate operating out of Los Angeles, California. The MS-13 also has its branches in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia and even in Canada. Gang members, who are predominantly of Central American origin, mostly from El Salvador and Mexico, distinguish themselves with their outrageous tattoos. The tattoos often cover their whole bodies, including their faces in some cases.

Here’s a story of one such gang member whose body art manifested itself into his downfall. Yes, it’s steeped in irony.

On 23rd January, 2004, Anthony Garcia killed a rival gang member by the name of John Juarez. The crime took place outside a liquor store in Pico Rivera, in East Los Angeles. According to one testimony, Garcia and another fellow gang mate walked up to Juarez, asked him where he was from, and shot him several times before fleeing the scene.

In the aftermath of the murder, Garcia’s mind came up with the most surreal, albeit stupid, idea. Garcia got a brand new tattoo on his chest. The pattern provided a symbolic representation of the murder. What it depicts is a helicopter shooting a peanut man outside a liquor store. The helicopter refers to Garcia, who also goes by the nickname of ‘chopper’. Peanut represents Juarez or members of the Pico Nuevo gang.

Other minute details provide sufficient evidence of Garcia’s link to the murder.

Four years later, in 2008, Garcia was arrested for driving without a valid licence. As per the norms involved in profiling suspected gang members, Garcia’s tattoos where photographed for reference.

Detective Sgt. Kevin Lloyd, who took part in the investigation of Juarez’s murder four years ago, stumbled onto Garcia’s profile in the records and made a shrewd observation of his tattoos and testified on the trial which led to Garcia being convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 65 years to life in prison.

Talk about regrettable tattoos.



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