Gangs in Central America [January 11, 2010]   [open pdf - 252KB]

"During its second session, the 111th Congress is likely to maintain an interest in the effects of crime and gang violence in Central America, and on the expanding activities of transnational gangs with ties to that region operating in the United States. The violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS- 13) and its main rival, the '18th Street' gang (also known as M-18) continue to threaten citizen security and challenge government authority in Central America. Gang-related violence has been particularly acute in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, which have among the highest homicide rates in the world. Governments in those countries appear to have moved away, at least on a rhetorical level, from repressive anti-gang strategies. However, they have yet to implement effective anti-gang policies that include an emphasis on prevention and rehabilitation of former gang members. [...]. Between February 2005 and September 2009, U.S. officials arrested some 2,572 alleged MS-13 members in cities across the United States, many of whom were subsequently deported. Evidence suggests, however, that previously deported members of both the MS-13 and the M-18 often reenter the United States illegally across the U.S.-Mexico border. Several U.S. agencies have been actively engaged on both the law enforcement and preventive side of dealing with Central American gangs. [...]. 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."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34112
Public Domain
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