WASHINGTON – A new and insidious threat is looming for dozens of U.S. states with what sources say is the new merger of the extremely violent and dangerous MS-13 gang with the Mexican Los Zetas drug cartel, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The Salvadoran MS-13, formally called the Mara Salvatrucha, is a transnational criminal gang consisting of upwards of 50,000 members that has cells not only in Central America, Mexico and Canada but some 10,000 members alone in cities from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.
It has particularly strong cells in the suburbs of northern Virginia and Maryland.
Earlier this month, the MS-13 earned the designation from the U.S. Treasury Department of being a transnational criminal organization for its activities in drug trafficking, kidnapping, human smuggling, sex trafficking, murder, assassinations, racketeering, blackmail, extortion and immigration offenses.
In addition, the MS-13 also is known to engage in child prostitution, home invasions and carjacking and does not hesitate to use a level of violence that includes machete attacks, shootings to the head, dismemberment and unusually violent rape.
It’s the first time that a street gang has received such a designation.
The U.S. Treasury designation stems from the National Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime announced by President Barack Obama in July 2011.
With this designation, the MS-13 now is considered a threat to U.S. national security.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury will be able to target the financial networks supporting the Latin American criminal gang. It also gives law enforcement additional tools to disrupt its activities.
However, it will be difficult to discern what money is controlled by the MS-13 as it is wired to countries outside the U.S. The groups are said to be decentralized, operating as self-contained entities and so spread out across 42 of the U.S. states that it will be difficult to coordinate any such activities between financial institutions and law enforcement, sources say.
In addition, an increasing number of members are assimilating more into American society by avoiding the visible, distinguishing tattoos, wearing clothing that doesn’t readily identify them with MS-13 gang members, and getting jobs.
Their favorite recruiting targets are students from middle schools and high schools who then undertake killings of members of other gangs or innocent people as an initiation into an MS-13 gang.
On top of its already extremely violent and dangerous activities, there are growing indications that MS-13 has merged with the Los Zetas drug cartel, which has begun to engage in training MS-13 members in Mexico.
Los Zetas was founded by former Mexican Special Forces operators who undoubtedly had received prior training from U.S. Special Forces personnel. No stranger to extreme violence, the Los Zetas drug cartel also has its own history of ferocious killings, including mass executions and beheadings. They’re already on U.S. Treasury’s transnational criminal organization list.
This so-called non-traditional alliance was first revealed by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in a report written by Adam Elkus and John P. Sullivan.
“The relationship between the Zetas and MS-13 is an alliance, and one that increases the Zetas’ ability to leverage new skills and markets, exploit gaps and vacuums, and extend their reach,” according to Elkus and Sullivan.
“It should be understood … that MS-13 and the Zetas joining together is not equivalent to a signed treaty that facilitates formal cooperation between two groups,” the authors said. “It is not known how such a deal was conducted, but it is sure to be something other than a literal declaration of fealty.”
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