Friday, January 8, 2016

FBI: Transnational Gangs Part 1: Understanding the Threat

The FBI offers part one of a series of reports on the threat of transnational gangs.

The town of Sonsonate, not far from the Pacific Ocean in western El Salvador, is home to a prison housing more than 800 inmates. Like many of the prisons in this Central American country, Centro Penal De Sonsonate incarcerates only gang members—and, by definition, each one is a killer.
La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and the 18th Street gang require their mostly teenage recruits to undergo at least two years of initiation before becoming full-fledged gang members. One of the final tests for membership is to commit murder.
“That is certain, you have to kill,” said Special Agent Julian Igualada, who is part of an FBI team that works in El Salvador with local law enforcement and the government to fight the transnational gang threat, because what happens there—and elsewhere in Central America—has a significant impact on the safety of U.S. citizens at home and abroad. Gang leaders in El Salvador routinely order their subordinates to commit crimes, including murder, on U.S. soil—and many times these orders are issued from behind bars.
“El Salvador has become the epicenter of gang violence in Central America and represents the largest connection to gang crime in the U.S.,” said Special Agent Grant Mann, who works in the Safe Streets and Gang Unit at FBI Headquarters in Washington and helps U.S. and Central American law enforcement agencies forge partnerships in the battle against transnational gangs.
“The gangs respect no borders, so law enforcement must respond in kind by working together,” Mann said. His unit recently sponsored a Central American Law Enforcement Exchange (CALEE) that brought Central American police officers and prosecutors together with local law enforcement personnel from American cities where MS-13 and 18th Street operate. It was the sixth such exchange the FBI has sponsored jointly with the U.S. Department of State since 2009. The goal of CALEE is to have participants share intelligence about the gangs as well as best practices.

You can read the rest of the report and watch an FBI video via the below link: 

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