Ultra-violent MS-13 gangs [are] now present in 3,500 U.S. cities.
The ultra-violent street gang MS-13, causing mayhem in cities and suburbs across the United States, is the focus of an international conference here co-sponsored by the FBI and the national police force in this Central American nation that served as the birthplace of the urban marauders.
In the opening session of the Gang Enforcement Conference (Tercera Conferencia Antipandillas), El Salvador President Antonio Saca said the problem is one that should concern many nations.
“Gangs like MS-13 have evolved into coordinated and well-financed criminal organizations,” he said, making them an international problem.
“The immigration that we have experienced in the region, into Mexico and the United States is a theme we have to understand,” Saca explained. “The same activity of the criminal gangs we experience here in this region is now being experienced in the United States. The territorial expansion of these criminal organizations is the principle menace we are facing from gangs like MS-13.”
Attorney James Trusty recently told a court in a case reported by the Washington Post that three leaders participated in or planned four murders over a span of only two years. Trusty told the court MS-13 gang members follow the “rape, kill and control” philosophy, using guns, knives and machetes.
Frank Flores of the Los Angeles Police Department told the convention that MS-13 today is recruiting members not just from El Salvador, but from the Hispanic community at large and even from Los Angeles’ African-American community.
Flores told the group that the Mexican Mafia controls the Hispanic groups in California from within the state prisons.
“In the world of Hispanic gangs,” Jose Chavez of the LAPD told the conference, “all roads lead to LA. We are trying to exchange information with law enforcement throughout the U.S. and throughout Latin America. LA is becoming a ‘fusion center’ for information on Hispanic gangs.”
El Salvadoran law enforcement authorities echoed that theme.