Fed crackdown shows MS-13 gang is real threat, experts said

Article author: 
Hector Becerra, Sam Quinones and Andrew Blankstein in Los Angeles and Danielle Ryan in Washington
Article publisher: 
Los Angeles Times
Article date: 
15 October 2012
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

The decision last week by federal authorities to classify the Mara Salvatrucha MS-13 gang as a “transnational criminal organization" has some experts hoping the move will put the gang on the run.

In Washington, both officials and experts said the designation shows that the federal government sees MS-13 as a real threat.

“There is likely a sense that Mara's power comes from its ability to make money,” said Juan Zarate, former deputy national security advisor under President George W. Bush.

Hagar Chemali, a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, said Thursday: “It is our hope that this action will generate caution within the formal financial sector to the operations of this group.

“Financial institutions across the U.S. and foreign branches of U.S. financial institutions are obligated to immediately identify and freeze property or property interests of MS-13 and to report any such blocked assets to the Treasury Department,” Chemali said.

PHOTOS: U.S labels MS-13 street gang ‘criminal organization’

Over the years, law enforcement crackdowns have deported and imprisoned many of MS-13's gang members, but the gang has responded by becoming more nuanced, Reyes said: “They don't even dress like gang members anymore.”


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