March 22, 2005

March 22, 2005 | News Releases on International Organizations

Cooperation Key to Curbing International Gang Activity

WASHINGTON, MARCH 22, 2005-As the recent arrests across the country of 100 members of the El Salvador-based Mara Salvatrucha gang indicate, it's not just the poor sections of major cities that have gang problems anymore.

In what federal officials promised was merely the first salvo in a
war on escalating gang activity, MS member
were apprehended-mostly for immigration violations-in Baltimore, New York and Los Angeles, but also in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., and in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.

The arrests indicate officials recognize that gangs are no longer local or even regional in nature. MS, whose U.S. base is in Los Angeles, is part of a transnational group that operates throughout Mexico and Central America, making millions of dollars selling drugs, fencing stolen cars, trafficking in arms and smuggling illegal aliens.

As a new paper from The Heritage Foundation points out, this growing international nature of gangs requires a coordinated response. And quickly, before these gangs begin to smuggle into the country terrorists with designs on far bigger crimes.

As such, say Heritage crime analyst David Muhlhausen and Latin American expert Stephen Johnson, federal and state law enforcement should collaborate to:

·     Curb factors that lead to gang growth, such as the destabilization of neighborhoods, through more effective policing and immigration reforms that filter out undocumented immigrants.

·     Implement multi-agency, multi-strategy policing that includes police, probation officers, social workers and community leaders.

Internationally, Muhlhausen and Johnson say, the United States should:

·    Promote open markets to increase employment

     opportunities, wages and other factors.

·   Strengthen the rule of law by bolstering real judicial reform in Mexico and Central America.

·   Promote family-friendly policies and better education.

.    Cooperate with partner countries by sharing intelligence on gangs and promoting collaboration among U.S. and foreign immigration and customs personnel

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