Big fucking mess
August 3, 2005 1:01 AM   Subscribe

The Mara Salvatrucha gang or MS-13 is an international street gang. Operation Community Shield spearheaded by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Dept. of Homeland Security has been arresting street gang members from gangs such as " Sure Inos (which seems to be spelled wrong and even Wiki knows it USA Today & Detroit Free Press); the 18th Street Gang; Latin Kings; the Mexican Mafia; Border Brothers; Brown Pride, Azian Pride;" etc. etc. (all you wanna know about gangs here or going way back - here) over the past few months and recently arrested 582 members of MS-13. So far, ICE has made 1,057 arrests as part of the sting. Rumor has it MS-13 linked with Al-Quedia to smuggle nukes into the US. C'mon, world net daily? The Dept. of Homeland Security (thru ICE) is using federal immigration databases coupled with the names of thousands of suspected gang members from state and local police departments to - at the very least - deport them. Is that ok? Under the new laws it seems legal. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called the gangs "a threat to our homeland security and ... a very urgent law enforcement priority." Yet non-Hispanic whites apparently commit more than half of all violent crimes, but make up only one-quarter of the prison population. I see the need to stop MS-13 and other gangs with international ties as much as the El Rukins were, but they were stopped by the state and local police and the FBI. So is it smarter policing or does the new law enforcement model target 'foreigners' and have the laws been tailor-made to target ghetto and barrio youth? I don't know, but why when I read ICE investigations cheif Marcy Forman say: "We're just getting started" do I get an Einsatzgruppen chill?
posted by Smedleyman (33 comments total)

 
/on preview: because I'm a big liberal.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:01 AM on August 3, 2005


But to reiterate (since it's late and I tend to shotgun blast broader issues): I see the need to stop MS-13 and other gangs with international ties as much as the El Rukins were, but they were stopped by the state and local police and the FBI. So what's with the targeting the folks with added pigmentation for the gang schtick? (WND's WMD rumors aside, I'm thinking McVeigh, the Texan with the TNT in his shack, etc. etc.)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:07 AM on August 3, 2005


Wow, overly long FPP and Godwin one ta boot.

I'm surprised that gangs are still viable seeing how the Feds pumped the ghettos full of crack in the early 90's.
posted by Dagobert at 2:15 AM on August 3, 2005


Campus Progress ran an article from one of our funded student publications a few months back about this very gang, and the influx of Salvadoran gangs into American suburbia. Worth a read if you're interested.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:07 AM on August 3, 2005


I'm usually all about immigrants rights, but this makes sense to me. I welcome people to come here for a better life. Often that means escaping violence, oppression, or poverty at home, and no one should have to live in the circumstances they are fleeing. Including people in the communities these street gangs terrorize in the US. Why should people who bring that with them be allowed to stay?
posted by leapingsheep at 5:02 AM on August 3, 2005


Man, I never get tired of reading hyberbolic allusions to Nazi Germany!
posted by jasonsmall at 5:13 AM on August 3, 2005


Man, I never get tired of reading hyberbolic allusions to Nazi Germany!

You know who else would have said something like that? Hitler!
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:29 AM on August 3, 2005


Aren't these gangs started in US prisons?

First, arrested illegal immigrants learn how to be hardcore in Supermax in Ohio.

Then when they serve their time, they get deported, they organize in the home country and sneak back into the US to cause the major problems.

Blowback ahoy!
posted by sandking at 6:01 AM on August 3, 2005


Liberal as I may be, I am not buying the Nazi thing any more than FoB or jasonsmall. Resorting to "arumentum ad Hitler" is best left to the mentally lazy, 13 year olds and net.Kooks.

That being said, I also think the idea that a gang is targeted because of their ethnic makeup is absurd. Racial stereotyping, "Cheap-labor" politics and "free Trade" issues are all real issues. Those issues get muddled when we on the left get so paranoid that we don't want to see the law applied to people who have BROKEN the law.

It is a perfectly sensible security move to eject disaffected foreign nationals who have organized themselves into criminal groups. Such actions are a far cry from abuse of civil rights and relate not at all to organizing death squads.

The disparity between the racial demographics of those who commit crimes and those who serve time is a function of the overall social inequality we live with in the US. Racial minority groups in general cannot hire the same kind of legal protection and representation that white America can. Blending these issues (illegal immigration, minority gang activity, judicial inequality, financial inequality) is morally satisfying however it fails to lead to informed policy decisions.
posted by BeerGrin at 6:02 AM on August 3, 2005


"First, arrested illegal immigrants learn how to be hardcore in Supermax in Ohio.

Then when they serve their time, they get deported, they organize in the home country and sneak back into the US to cause the major problems." - Sandking

I have not done the homework on this, but common sense tells me you don't get supermax for hopping the fence into the US. Does this argument assume there is no criminal element outside of our borders and that 100% of the poor huddled masses are angels at our gates?
posted by BeerGrin at 6:07 AM on August 3, 2005


Foriegn Affairs had an excellent story about this 2 months ago. Basically what happened is in the 1990s the US had a no tolerance policy. Gang members from LA were deported back to countries in Latin America. There the police system is not well organized and the gangs perculated and grew, both in organization, numbers and violence. Then they started coming back to the USA, except to the suburbs of large cities all over. So now we have these gangs with a strong foothold in central america pumping out new recruits and flooding into the US at unprecedent rates. Gangs that were originally LA only have become international cartels thanks to our no-tolerance policy.
posted by stbalbach at 6:22 AM on August 3, 2005


This is pretty good as newsfilter, and the Nazi link was germane (if winking).
So stop with the "OMG he mentioned NAzIs I HAVE TO SAY GODWIN NOW!" bullshit. You're using "Godwin" incorrectly (the only real application would be Faint of Butt, and he said that as a joke), and it's not an "argumentem ad Hitler" because that's a bit of historical fluff at the bottom.
(Now, back to reading the links).
posted by klangklangston at 6:24 AM on August 3, 2005


First, arrested illegal immigrants learn how to be hardcore in Supermax in Ohio.


Um, not really. The average age of MS gang members is pretty low, and kids start joining these gangs at 13 and 14.

There are a couple of things that are really disturbing about MS-13 (to me, at least). They are incredibly ruthless about eliminating witnesses. And they can be pretty low-tech about their weaponry, often hacking people to death with machetes.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 6:32 AM on August 3, 2005


"So now we have these gangs with a strong foothold in central america pumping out new recruits and flooding into the US at unprecedent rates. Gangs that were originally LA only have become international cartels thanks to our no-tolerance policy.
posted by stbalbach at 9:22 AM EST on August 3 [!]"

Ok, I see and understand the process being described. It worries me however when we start considering things like immigration policy to be causative. I understand the policies role in the process, however singling immigration out I fear leads to the appearance that a change in immigration policy would be a solution.

I heartfully agree that poverty and inequality are real issues that are hurting both the individuals and the governments involved. However I think that these "Gang" groups do have to be addressed in a direct and decisive manner. I also think that the policy changes that will matter are ones that improve local economies, job opportunities ,and education south of the border. I am not such an egotist to say this is easy to go or that i have the answer, but I don't think the Gangs/immigration woes will ever subside based on border policy.


Oh, and I still dislike the Hitler thing because it detracted from a good post. We need a great cosmic 13 year old to stand upon a mountain top of culture and cry "Old meme" on Nazi references.
posted by BeerGrin at 6:46 AM on August 3, 2005


One of the local alternative weekly papers here in Columbus Ohio ran a story a while ago asserting that MS-13 had found the C-Bus rather to it's liking and had decided to set up shop. I found two points the article made, if true, of interest:

1. MS-13 kind of sets a new standard for evil, nasty violence. Apparently this is seen as a natural offshoot of the Salvadoran paramilitary experience although I recently read that, like many other gangs, MS-13 has grown beyond it's roots of Salvadoran paramilitarys.

2. They tend not to foul their own nest so to speak. In other words, Columbus was seen as a satellite base for working Cleveland, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Whew! I'm going to see the butter cow at the Ohio State Fair. Betta watch yo back Indianapolis!
posted by well_balanced at 7:40 AM on August 3, 2005


I just worked with this really nice guy who was involved with the Latin Kings. I thought it was a shame. He got a facial tattoo right before they cracked down on the gang in the Springfield, MA area.

This is another situation where globilization = problem US can't fight with military/police might. The more we arrest and deport, the more we have jail hardened folks hopping the border (they don't have to go to Ohio to have a tough time) and the more you have younger kids missing parents and going into gangs.

Not that I can suggest a good solution.
posted by es_de_bah at 7:48 AM on August 3, 2005


In other news, your friendly Columbian gangs are keeping the coke supply untainted. Cocaine dealers, the forefront of the war on terror.
posted by geoff. at 7:53 AM on August 3, 2005


In other news, your friendly Columbian gangs are keeping the coke supply untainted.

Um, respectfully, that NY Post story linked here reads like pure horseshit. There are so many gigantic gaping holes in the plausibility of such a scenario that I can only assume it is the usual baseless fear-mongering typical of the Post.
posted by well_balanced at 8:30 AM on August 3, 2005


well_balanced, yes I agree there are some holes. For one, it is running under the assumption that no one does cocaine along the distribution channel until the final (non-dealer) consumer. This is ludicrous. I could see perhaps large shipments getting to various controlling dealers/groups that distribute along major hubs but everyone knows that they try the purity before they push it out, would you move several million dollars worth of a product out without making sure its Ajax? That said the idea is ammusing, that extreme Islam is once again trumped by capitalism.

Besides every so often you hear of a small, inexperienced dealer cutting his supply of heroin with something less-than-safe and when there are a few deaths from it all the papers and hospitals are on it like crazy. Only the hardcore junkies don't wait it out until whomever has the bad stuff realizes business is down and gets rid of it. This is on a small, small scale mind you.
posted by geoff. at 8:55 AM on August 3, 2005


'When Reagan came to power, funding of the Salvadoran military dramatically increased, often against congressional opposition, and the US continued to extensively fund the Salvadoran military until the 1992 ceasefire.

The civil war placed intense stress on Salvadoran youth, many of whom witnessed the torture and murder of their families, or who were recruited by the army as child soldiers. In the name of protection, many parents sent their children alone or with distant relatives to the US. Some academics and psychologists have suggested that the civil war and immigration trauma hardened some youth, fostering violent instincts replicated on American streets.
--------------------------------------------------
To begin, big dogpile on Reagan's/Republicans policies for 'fixing things'.

It seems that the most obvious solution there, at home and in a larger context around the world should be a war on poverty to eliminate these situations.
As long as there is poverty there is going to be a struggle to move outward from that. In the southern U.S. that means taking a job that might be unthinkable in other parts of the country (joining the military). In the impovererished sectors of the U.S. and central america it means joining gangs.
I think if there was more concentration on improving the living situations and job opportunities of everyone involved these problems would solve themselves.
But then again, perhaps these policies were put in place to perpetuate struggle and violence and alienations, not eliminate them.
posted by mk1gti at 9:51 AM on August 3, 2005


Al Qaeda & Salvadoran kids smuggling nukes into the US -- 80's Republican foreign policy coming home to roost.
posted by clevershark at 10:29 AM on August 3, 2005


Colombian.
posted by signal at 10:31 AM on August 3, 2005


...non-Hispanic whites apparently commit more than half of all violent crimes, but make up only one-quarter of the prison population.

This could be reworded to say: "Non-whites make up less than one quarter of the national population, but make up almost three-quarters of the prison population because they commit almost half of all violent crimes."

What then?
posted by shambles at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2005


I don't really understand what the accusation is here. You are against rounding up illegal aliens in murderous criminal organizations because it makes you feel uncomfortable? Huh?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:28 PM on August 3, 2005


shambles: even my republican retired deputy police chief friend admits the legal system is flawed to allow the arrest, prosecution and incarceration of a disproportionate number of people of color.

here's some reading.
posted by RedEmma at 2:31 PM on August 3, 2005


Re: "Hitler"
Thanks klangklangston. Nice to see there are others with the dry humor sensing apparatus.

You are against rounding up illegal aliens in murderous criminal organizations because it makes you feel uncomfortable?
With the way you put it? In short: Yes.
First, because the FBI has been fighting murderous criminal organizations for many many years. The Mafia is on it's last legs, many of the larger gangs such as the Crips and Bloods have been crippled. Street gangs with ties out of the country and straighforward terrorist cells have been successfully fought by the FBI, Customs, U.S. Marshals and Secret Service for years.

Second, because the current laws are geared toward race and class. If you work in a multinational corporation that conspires to kill thousands thru neglect, you might get tried for manslaughter and get to plead out to a lesser charge.
If you are poor & have an overabundance of pigmentation and are standing with three people and you get into a fight with a fourth guy and kill him you get a mandatory life sentence or even the death penalty for connection with "gang activity."

So, I am in favor of stopping crime. I'm in favor of attacking criminal organizations. But I question the need for ICE and I question the focus on enforcing what appears to be a class and racially biased set of laws.
I would add if busting illegal aliens was such a problem you could simply beef up or revamp the immigration agency.

Non-whites make up less than one quarter of the national population, but make up almost three-quarters of the prison population because they commit almost half of all violent crimes.

Shambles, that's predicated on them actually committing almost half of violent crimes.

What then is selective enforcement. There are more in jail because they are more likely to be arrested, prosecuted and jailed for those crimes.
I posted a link to this topic.

Wow, overly long FPP and Godwin one ta boot.

Godwin, yeah, I remember when I first connected to the internet too. LOL!!!! ROFLMAO!!!!!

I just like being complete. Sorry if it's too long, and of course that I put a gun to your head to make you read it.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:42 PM on August 3, 2005


There is no reason to believe that overt racism or bigotry is more prevalent among police officers than among other professionals.
RedEmma, I've heard the same lament fromsome of my cop friends who are by no means racist but realize how the system is set up.

This seems even more institutionalized and invisible. My own knee-jerk reation at hearing M-13 being busted was 'great!'
Then I looked further into it.
I'm sure at least some if not all of the ICE agents believe they're doing the right thing. Particulary with the dangerous multinational connections some gangs seem to have.

But what hit me was the misspelling, and reiteration of the misspelling of the SureƱos in the papers as 'Sure Inos', the charges "ranging from illegal possession of a firearm to holding fraudulent documents" (no terrorists...? no murder or other capitol crime charges?), Chertoff's flouting of the law speech, the stress on the illegal immigrant aspect, and Forman's "We're just getting started," comment.

There seemed to be this overall tone smacking of totalitarianism - watch out about to mention Nazi Germany!!! - which seemed similar to the Nazi rhetoric - the suspicion and hatred of foreigners, the need for absolute respect for authority, new agencies given power with wide latitudes, etc.
Comments from the Freeper site such as:
How difficult would it be to check out folks hanging around the 7/11's and the ethnic bars and trace through them the whole gang bunch? It's not like they aren't locatable; it's more like the powers that be don't want to look.

I obviously don't think ICE is a death squad, I don't think Happy2BMe posting on the free republic site is a fascist, but the jingoism sort of rings to me as similar.
It's what I learned about in school, hopefully we all did, so if something of that kind of totalitarianism seems similar, I don't think it's off base to mention it.

Considering the efficacy of racial profiling, the whole putting the theme before studying reality aura we have around us lately I shouldn't be surprised when we resort to this superhero comic book vision of reality. C'mon, 'ICE'? Sounds like something from NARC or some other video game.
So I put the links to Nick Fury and Cobra commander.

Violent crime has been mostly dropping as a trend.
No doubt, MS -13 is a dangerous organization. My concern however is we will do more damage to ourselves than mitigating the 'flouting' some of these people do.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:06 PM on August 3, 2005


The more I see "Godwin" inappropriately invoked, the less difference I see between those mentions and false comparisons to Nazi Germany... it strikes me that both tactics are just a way to avoid thinking about an issue.
posted by clevershark at 6:07 PM on August 3, 2005


Don't know who Godwin is, but just thought the final aside was lamentably unneccesary in an otherwise thought-provoking post.
posted by jasonsmall at 5:43 AM on August 4, 2005


Trusting either WorldNutsDaily or the NY Daily News to give you information that isn't slanted in ways that would make Karl Rove applaud will get you in trouble.

The two organizations rival the Weekly World News on credibility issues... and the WWN admits that it makes stuff up.
posted by mephron at 6:04 AM on August 4, 2005


the final aside was lamentably unneccesary
Unfortunately I have to agree. I prefer to remain ambigous, on the broader topics especially. Lots of room there for thought. I suppose I felt I bit defensive and wanted to justify the length , etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:30 AM on August 4, 2005


The name ICE says exactly what the bureau is designed for. It's task is to perform law enforcement action regarding customs and immigration crimes. The clever acronym is a Washington mainstay (eg. USA PATRIOT or SEALs). Cartoonish as it may be, the name is at least pretty clear to their job, a job that they are performing. They are not a law enforcement agency that arrests Americans for crimes like murder or burglary, they are tasked with enforcing immigration and customs laws. Rarely are you going to see an American citizen arrested for immigration violations, strangely people that are not foreigners aren't often subject to these sorts of laws unless they are doing something like producing fraudulent documents, so pointing at them as some sort of anti-immigrant group is just silly.

ICE doesn't do anything new, it only continues the work that used to be divided between INS and Customs before their merger. Now they are in their own agency, mainly because INS and Customs were pretty bad at enforcement due to it taking miles of paperwork to get anything accomplished.

While it is possible to pull up quotes from ICE officials stating that they are just getting started, it is also possible to find them speaking about how impossible the task of enforcing all immigration laws truly would be if they were even willing to try.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:52 PM on August 4, 2005


I find this post interesting, just having watched portions of a recent criminal trial against 2 MS-13 members taking place in the courthouse I work in. The defendants had participated in two drive-by shootings, wounding 3 people. The jury returned a guilty verdict after a couple days of deliberation- the surprise: it was the first time MS-13 members had been found guilty on federal racketeering ("RICO") charges, which earned them a minimum of 90 years in prison-- far more than the time they would have served if tried in a state court. The trial testimony was fascinating, since both the victims and other gang members testified. What was most alarming though, from a legal perspective, is that the gov't apparently had no trouble convicing the jury that the fired bullets counted as "explosives" under the statute. Traditionally, "explosives" have been bombs, and RICO has been reserved for prosecuting high-profile and more notorious criminals.
posted by Harvey Birdman at 4:50 PM on August 4, 2005


« Older Temptation Blocker...  |  As of today, the German langua... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments