Didn't the other paper have a front page story a few weeks ago about some gang called MI-13 and how they were getting big in Columbus? Apparently not big enough for the feds to care since we were left out of a nationwide raid on the gang.http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/03/14/gang.a ... index.html
100 Members of Immigrant Gang Are Held
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/15/natio ... ner=rssnyt
By CHARLIE LeDUFF
Published: March 15, 2005
LOS ANGELES, March 14 - Federal immigration authorities announced Monday that they had arrested more than 100 members of a violent Central American street gang in a nationwide crackdown.
The gang, Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, was born in the Rampart district of Los Angeles and has since multiplied across the continent, involving itself in narcotics and gun trafficking, murder and prostitution, law enforcement officials said.
Many of the gang members are illegal immigrants, mostly from Latin American countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Those arrested have a litany of criminal charges on their records, and some are immigration violators who were ordered deported but either returned to the United States or never left in the first place.
In total, 103 people were arrested over the past month by agents of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"By bringing the full range of I.C.E.'s immigration and customs authorities in the fight against violent street gangs, we can take hundreds of gang members off the streets and have a significant impact on community safety," said Michael Garcia , the Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary and director of the immigration and customs bureau.
The man said to be the leader of the MS-13 gang was arrested in Texas in early February. That man, Ever Anibal Rivera Paz, known as El Culiche, or the Tapeworm, was recognized by his tattoos, one of the gang's hallmarks. He had escaped from prison in Honduras, where he was accused of masterminding an attack on a bus that killed 28 people.
Federal agents, working on information provided by state and local law enforcement officials, arrested 30 suspected MS-13 members in the New York area, 25 in Washington, 17 in Los Angeles, 10 in Newark, 10 in Miami, 10 in Baltimore and 1 in Irving, Tex.
Among those arrested in Los Angeles was a former member of the Salvadoran military who admitted to the authorities that he was a founding member of the MS-13 gang in Hollywood. The man has convictions for weapons violations, robbery and mail theft and was arrested on immigration violations.
"MS is not a gang, it's an army," said Officer Frank Flores, a gang expert with the Los Angeles Police Department, who says MS-13 membership numbers in the tens of thousands nationwide. "Within the United States, these guys pose as much a threat to the well being of ordinary citizens as any foreign terrorist group."
Another man, arrested in Long Branch, N.J., is suspected of being the leader of the MS-13 cell there. He has a criminal history of aggravated arson, weapons possession, grand larceny and possession of stolen property. He, too, was arrested on administrative immigration violations.
One problem with dealing with criminal illegal immigrants, law enforcement officials say, is that cities like Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York have either written or understood "sanctuary" policies that prohibit their law enforcement officers from asking a suspect about his immigration status. This makes it difficult for police officers to work with federal immigration authorities until an illegal immigrant commits a crime.
The thinking is that illegal immigrants who lead normal and productive lives would be unwilling to approach the police as witnesses if they feared that they, too, would be deported.
The problem is especially acute in Los Angeles, where gang members often return after being deported. Local police officers may know a criminal by face, but until they catch him in an illegal act, he is allowed to remain on the streets.
But a new era may be dawning in the fight against gangs, as police departments like Los Angeles's share street intelligence with the federal authorities.
"You think an immigrant Hispanic family who is here illegally would mind if we targeted the violent criminal?" Capt. Michael Downing, commander of the Hollywood precinct, asked. "I don't. But every time you mention it, they say it's a slippery slope and so the violent criminal is tolerated."
In Central America, the judicial system has employed a no-tolerance policy for gang members deported from the United States known as "mano dura" or the "hard hand." Gang members deported there may prefer to return to the United States rather than risk the long sentences for gang affiliation and particularly onerous prison life there.
Federal immigration officials estimate that there are 80,000 to 100,000 criminal illegal immigrants in the United States. If the 30,000 in the Los Angeles area were all to be apprehended at the same time, they would overwhelm the 1,400 beds allotted for them. So immigration officials say the current operation is meant to single out the most hardened criminals with longstanding gang ties.
"L.A. isn't the only place where this is happening," said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the immigration bureau. "We've thrown down the gauntlet, and this is only the beginning."