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Posted by portugalpress on September 04, 2014
Portuguese gangster in high-profile drugs trial

As heavily- tattooed Hermano Moreno is due to go on trial charged with drug trafficking, police in Portugal are reported to be on the alert for a national cell of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha crime gang - flagged for murders and extortion on an international level.

One of the “most dangerous in the world”, Mara Salvatrucha is made up of more than 70,000 men, women and even enforced children, the majority of which work in central America.

Drug trafficking is the gang’s core business and it is this that put Hermano Moreno in the police spotlight.

The 31-year-old from Amadora is alleged to have been in the process of smuggling 22 kg of cocaine - a total of 54,000 doses - into the country.

He was “surprised” by PJ police in 2013 while offloading the drug into various cars at Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro airport, but managed to escape to Holland, from where he has finally been extradited to await trial in Maia.

Reporting on the case earlier today, Correio da Manhã says that Moreno is charged with the trafficking of narcotics.

CM adds that the authorities in Portugal are “on the alert for a cell” of the notorious drug gang, particularly after Spanish police rounded up 35 gang members in Spain earlier this year.

The chances of a Portuguese cell are “strong”, adds CM, stressing that Hermano is being detained in custody because there is a “serious risk” that he would otherwise once again flee the country.

Profiling the Mara Salvatrucha, CM highlights particularly violent rituals that involve would-be gang members going into an “enemy neighbourhood” and shooting dead a rival.

Gang members are easily identified, as they tend to be heavily tattooed - with tattoos even on their faces.

The initials MS-13 are commonplace; the 13 standing for the number of seconds a would-be gang member has to endure violent beating in order to be initiated into the group.

Another characteristic of Mara Salvatrucha is that gang members are sworn to secrecy. They are meant to refuse even to answer questions in court. Thus, the upcoming trial in Maia is unlikely to hear much from Moreno’s defence.