with photo from Folsom prison, Guatemala City, March 31, 2001.
Veterano, Guatemala City, March 31, 2001
These days Porky cuts ladies, mens, and childrens hair. He calls his
barbershop Estetica The Best. "You know what this means,"
he asks pointing to the words THE BEST blazoned across his chest--"It's
for THE BIG EIGHTEENTH STREET."
"When I was locked up in Folsom prison THE BEST was the secret
code we used for 18th Street members who were in the Mexican Mafia prison
gang. I got a picture of my buddies and me in la
pinta. Spooky is to the left of me and Blacky is to the right. They
are both doing life in the US. I was lucky. I got out after five years."
"I joined 18th Street back in the 70s when I was a little kid.
In LA joining gangs was how you got respect. Over there in the US its
about territory and money and guns and power. I was shot five times
by an MS gang member. In self defense I shot him twice. He ended up
in the cemetary and I ended up in jail. I was also heroin addict for
14 years. I knew I'd end up dead if I stayed in the States so I came
back to Guatemala."
"In 93 when I first got here there was hardly any MS or 18th street
gang members. How it started was with guys like me. Kids want to feel
important and they hear stories about jail in the States, they see our
tatoos, for them we're like gods. They want to
imitate everything. But in Guatemala the cartels control the drugs.
You can't make money. The kids just fight over a name or a number. They
just kill each other for nothing."
"I guess I'm lucky. My dad taught me how
to work, how to cut hair. I found Jesus and now I am married and have
three kids and I'm out of the violence. You can never leave the gang.
People always know you are 18th Street. I've got 18th Street in my heart.
But all the violence, that is in my past. Now I have peace in my heart,
a decent job and money in my pocket. The last thing Guatemala needs