*** Federal and local authorities indicted twenty members of the Los Angeles-based "Normandy Locos" clique of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, who were attempting to establish a foothold for the gang in Denver, CO:
Officers seized 10 pounds of methamphetamine, 5 pounds of cocaine, 124 grams of heroin, 12 firearms and $3,300 in cash. * * * Denver FBI special-agent- in-charge Jim Davis said an informant told him the gang wanted to establish a foothold in Colorado "because they believed law enforcement is soft here. This shows them that we are determined not to let them establish a foothold here." Davis said "a significant portion" of the gang's structure in metro Denver was dismantled, estimating it to be in the "70 percent" range. He said he didn't know how many more gang members are at large in Colorado. A total of 20 people were indicted by the grand jury, of which eight were arrested, eight were already in custody and four are fugitives.
MS-13 is a high-priority target for law enforcement:
[The gang] was formed 20 years ago in Los Angeles by Salvadorans. The gang has since grown to 7,000 to 10,000 members in the United States and another 10,000 in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and other Central American countries, according to Metro Gang Task Force commander Paul Swanson of the Aurora Police Department. * * * The MS-13 gang grew ruthless in Los Angeles once it developed a rivalry with the 18th Street Gang, according to the FBI. After much bloodshed, the rivalry finally was settled by the Mexican Mafia. To pay homage to the mafia, the gang adopted the numeral "13" for M, the 13th letter of the alphabet, the FBI said. "What's different about this gang is that it is truly international, unlike other gangs like the Latin Kings, which operates in several states," said Daniel Roberts, deputy assistant director of the FBI, who flew in for Tuesday morning raids and a news conference in the afternoon. "These are mobsters without borders who are wreaking havoc on our cities. They now operate in 42 states. Some of the stuff we used in mob investigations in the past we are now using for this gang." Roberts said MS-13 is the only gang for which the FBI has established a separate unit, with agents in El Salvador partnering with Salvadoran police.
*** For good reason, MS-13 is considered "the most dangerous gang in America":
The gang typically targets high school and even middle school students for recruitment. Initiation into the gang usually consists of the recruit committing a brutal attack on either a rival gang member or even upon an unsuspecting civilian. * * * [T]he gang currently operates in 42 states as well as the District of Columbia. The highest concentrations are in California, the District of Columbia, New York, and Virginia. * * * MS-13 engages in a wide variety of criminal activities including drug distribution, murder, rape, prostitution, robbery, home invasions, human smuggling, kidnapping, and carjacking.The gang is infamous for machete and grenade attacks. They have also been known to behead their enemies. In addition to their other criminal activities, MS-13 also apparently acts as paid assassins, with the target being U.S. law enforcement.
The Mexican Mafia, also known as "Mexikanemi" or "La Eme," is a prison gang that began in Texas in the early 1980s. A hierarchy is set up and members' ranks can range from "President" down to "Prospect." The group is organized geographically and each area has a ranking member to help coordinate the gang's efforts.
*** Seventeen alleged members and associates of the Latin Kings have been indicted in
*** In Buffalo, NY the FBI arrested more than 30 individuals tied to an alleged drug gang known as 31, and in Reno, NV authorities arrested basketball player Damone Brown for allegedly laundering drug money for the gang:
The 29-year-old athlete was arrested in Reno, Nev., where he has been playing for the Reno Bighorns, a minor league team. He is accused of felony money-laundering, setting up a safe deposit box where a drug dealer stashed $170,000 in alleged cocaine proceeds. "He is charged strictly on a felony money-laundering count," said Assistant U. S. Attorney Kurt P. Martin. "He is accused of signing up for the safe deposit box where [defendant] Glance Ross kept his cash." Ross, 23, is accused of being a major drug trafficker associated with a gang known as 31, FBI agents said.
*** Fifteen alleged members and associates of the Bloods have been indicted in Charlotte, NC on 41 counts of federal firearms, drug and robbery charges which is the area's third major gang bust in two years.
It's the latest in a trend by federal prosecutors across the country to use the 1970 Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act -- commonly called RICO -- to prosecute street gangs. But lawyers for the accused say the so-called gangs are nothing more than ragtag operations with little in common. Criminologists say the distinctions are important in how such cases affect the influence of street gangs in a community. "If the police have good intelligence and information of a formal criminal organization, RICO has been very effective in prosecuting street gangs," said Michael Birzer, associate professor of criminal justice at Wichita State University. * * * RICO convictions also bring heavier sentences to federal prison where, unlike the state penitentiary, there is no parole. If convicted, defendants could face decades-long sentences.