"The 110th Congress maintains a keen interest in the effects of crime and gang violence in Central America and its spillover effects on the United States. Since February 2005, more than 1,758 alleged members of the violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang have been arrested in cities across the United States. These arrests have raised concerns about the transnational activities of Central American gangs, and governments throughout the region are struggling to find the right combination of suppressive and preventive policies to deal with them. [...] An inter-agency committee worked together to develop a U.S. Strategy to Combat Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico, announced at a July 2007 U.S.-Central American Integration System (SICA) summit on security issues. The strategy, which is now being implemented, states that the U.S. government will pursue coordinated antigang activities through five broad areas: diplomacy, repatriation, law enforcement, capacity enhancement, and prevention. During the first session of the 110th Congress, several Members introduced immigration legislation -- H.R. 1645 (Gutierrez), S. 330 (Isakson), and S. 1348 (Reid) -- that included provisions to increase cooperation among the United States, Mexico, and Central America in the tracking of gang activity and in the handling of deported gang members, but none of those bills were enacted. [...] The Consolidation Appropriations Act, FY2008 (H.R. 2764/P.L. 110-161), included the provision of $8 million to the State Department to combat criminal youth gangs, $3 million more than the Administration's request. During its second session, the 110th Congress may consider the Mérida Initiative, a new anticrime and counterdug aid package for Mexico and Central America introduced by the Administration in October 2007 [...] This report describes the gang problem in Central America, discusses country and regional approaches to deal with the gangs, and analyzes U.S. policy with respect to gangs in Central America."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34112