News / USA

US Imposes Penalties on MS-13 Gang

In this Aug. 31, 2012 photo, alleged members of the MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha gang arrested on murder and gun possession charges are loaded into a police pick-up truck after being presented to the press in San Salvador, El Salvador. In this Aug. 31, 2012 photo, alleged members of the MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha gang arrested on murder and gun possession charges are loaded into a police pick-up truck after being presented to the press in San Salvador, El Salvador.
x
In this Aug. 31, 2012 photo, alleged members of the MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha gang arrested on murder and gun possession charges are loaded into a police pick-up truck after being presented to the press in San Salvador, El Salvador.
In this Aug. 31, 2012 photo, alleged members of the MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha gang arrested on murder and gun possession charges are loaded into a police pick-up truck after being presented to the press in San Salvador, El Salvador.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
The U.S. government has stepped up its crackdown on Mara Salvatrucha, a violent gang with roots in El Salvador that has been increasing its presence in the United States.

The Treasury Department announced Thursday it had branded the group as a transnational criminal organization, a designation that allows the government to block any assets the gang has in the United States and prohibit U.S. citizens from conducting business with the group.

Treasury officials say the gang, known as MS-13, has about 30,000 members, including 8,000 in the United States.  In addition to El Salvador, the group has a significant presence in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

In a statement, Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen said MS-13 has been linked to murders, racketeering, drug and human trafficking in the U.S., and that its violent attacks on rival gang members often injure innocent bystanders.

Marymount University criminal justice professor Cynthia O'Donnell has published research on MS-13.  She tells VOA the group is intentionally violent.  

"One of the reasons that they are violent has to do with what they are trying to accomplish, and that is simply the reputation for that," said O'Donnell. "They want to be known as the biggest, the baddest, the meanest.  And so they, of course, commit the acts that endorse that."  

The Treasury Department says MS-13 now operates in more than 40 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

O'Donnell says one reason the group has been able to get such a strong foothold in the U.S. is that it is so mobile.

"When the heat turns up in one area, so to speak, they move to another area," O'Donnell said.

The U.S. has taken similar action against other violent groups, including the Yakuza, a Japanese organized crime group, and the Mexico-based Zetas drug cartel.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid