Banner announces the beginning of the 2007 Gang Enforcement Conference

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – 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.”

The conference, which started yesterday, is sponsored by the Policia National Civil (National Civil Police) in El Salvador and co-sponsored by the FBI’s MS-13 Task Force, headed by Brian Truchon in Washington.

A select group of U.S. and international law enforcement officers, including representatives from Mexico and Latin America, is working on how to respond to the El Salvador-grown MS-13 gang (Mara Salvatrucha Gang), the tattooed drug-dealing criminals haunting the nightmares of FBI agents across the U.S.

WND reported as early as 1995 the gang reportedly was meeting with representatives of al-Qaida and smuggling operatives into the United States from Mexico.

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.

A crowd gathers to hear El Salvador President Antonio Saca warn that criminal gangs is a problem for the Americas

Robert Loosle, FBI special agent in charge in Los Angeles, told WND that a key focus of the conference is to make sure “everybody is on the same page” both within the U.S. and internationally in dealing with the growing problem of Hispanic gangs in the United States.

“With Hispanic gangs, we are facing an international law enforcement challenge,” Loosle explained. “Gangs like MS-13 may cause a problem locally in the U.S. communities where the gang operates. But the gang has ties and connections back to El Salvador, as well as to other Latin American countries.”

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.

“Gangs like MS-13 or the 18th Street Gang have a history that goes back into the 1980s,” Flores explained. “The Mexican Mafia is organized as a crime hierarchy, along the model of the Sicilian Mafia. The big money business for the Hispanic gangs still is drugs. All through Los Angeles any gang or gang member who wants to deal drugs is going to have to pay ‘rent’ to EME [the Mexican Mafia], or else they are out of business and most likely dead.”

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is planning to visit President Saca during his nine-day swing through El Salvador and Mexico planned in early May, and Loosle told WND that he was planning to remain in El Salvador after the conference in order to prepare for Villaraigosa’s meeting with Saca.

“Los Angeles and San Salvador are sister cities,” Loosle said. “We want to make sure our FBI gang task force and Mexico’s Policia National Civil exchange information and work together on a continuing basis.”

“We also want to set up an officer exchange program,” Loosle continued, “where LAPD officers can be assigned to work in El Salvador to gain experience and at the same time we can invite officers from El Salvador’s national police to work with us in LA.”

An important theme in the first day of the conference was that “if it’s happening in LA, it’s probably also happening here in El Salvador.”

“In the world of Hispanic gangs,” Jos? Ch?vez 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.

Jerome Corsi is in El Salvador attending the Third Gang Enforcement Conference for WND, at the invitation of the FBI’s MS-13 Task Force.

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