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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid