Likelihood of Collaboration between Central American Transnational Gangs and Terrorist Organizations   [open pdf - 345KB]

"This thesis focuses on the growing threat of transnational criminal gangs spreading throughout Central America and the United States (U.S.). More specifically, the thesis addresses the Mara Salvatrucha (MS- 13) gang, examining how it emerged as a formidable public security threat. A common misconception holds transnational gangs emerged in Central America; these gangs actually have their origins in U.S. gang lifestyle. Since the early 1990's, MS-13 has established criminal networks specializing in drug, arms, goods, and human smuggling. These operations pose a grave threat to U.S. national security: 2004 intelligence reports indicated a possible meeting between an al-Qaeda lieutenant and MS-13 members. Consequently, local and federal U.S. law enforcement agencies have cooperated in monitoring transnational gang activity in the U.S. and the western hemisphere. While MS-13 is not anti-American, the gang will work with the highest bidder. Therefore, the thesis addresses the organized crime-terrorist organization debate within the academic and intelligence communities, adding how globalization serves to facilitate this link. The thesis helps to explain how current Central American legislation is forcing transnational gangs to go 'underground' to survive. Findings show the need for a more multi-faceted strategy to ensure long-term solutions to the gang problem not obtainable with current heavy-handed methods, while concurrently reducing the risk of a terrorist-transnational gang link in the western hemisphere."

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Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library: http://www.nps.edu/Library/index.aspx
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