• Are the Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street Gangs a Threat to Our National Security

      Ortiz, José A. Jr. (2013-02-07)
      This study focuses on the two predominantly Latino gangs, Mara Salvatrucha (aka MS-13), and the 18th Street Gang, operating on the streets of communities across America. This study is significant because it will provide information about how these violent gangs operate in ways that can inform and alert both civilian society and government agencies concerning optimal responses to the problems created by these gangs. Through a quantitative and qualitative analysis of documentary evidence and governmental statistics about the Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street Gang, this study developed several conclusive findings on the negative effects of these groups in the United States. The Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street Gang are becoming transnational criminal organizations, given the fact that they originated in Central America and Mexico and have since expanded their operations abroad. Despite efforts by national and international law enforcement to curtail these gangs’ criminal behaviors, they maintain their ties with their gang associates in these countries. Moreover, gang members engage in criminal activities that were highly organized. They also moved through networks that continued to gain sophistication. Drug trafficking, gun running, violence, robbery, extortion are some of the heinous crimes committed by these groups. These gangs disturb peace and order in the community, destroy personal property and endanger the lives of citizens. These two gangs may establish an organized criminal enterprise capable of coordinating illegal activities across national borders. Nonetheless, with complete disregard to the laws of this land, including immigration laws, these groups are considered a threat to the security of the country, but this level is considered comparable to any highly organized street gang that supports its activities with criminal enterprises. In sum, the dangers posed by Mara Salvatrucha and the 18th Street Gang, as well as other comparable criminal organizations should not be underestimated.