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Monday, September 27, 2004

Latino Gangs swarm back to US

Marlon Enrique Fuentes, deported by the U.S. and jailed in Honduras, displays his Los Angeles gang ties with tattoos: XVIII, Cry Me and Try Me.
Mara 18 Gangmember-Marlon Enrique Fuentes

Ginger Thompson of the NY Times reports on how hispanic gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18 started in the slums of Los Angeles. Gang members were then sent back to Central America in a massive immigration crackdown in the mid-1990's. This in-turn led to a massive crime wave in Central America. The Central American governments, then applied extraordinary measures to expell many gang members who now have come full circle and ended up back in the US.

...gang members, known here (in Honduras) as "maras," after a species of swarming ants. Indeed, over the last decade gangs have spread like a scourge across Central America, Mexico and the United States, setting off a catastrophic crime wave that has turned dirt-poor neighborhoods into combat zones and an equally virulent crackdown that has left thousands of gang members dead, in hiding, in jail or heading to the United States.

The authorities estimate there are 70,000 to 100,000 gang members across Central America and Mexico. In the last decade, gangs have killed thousands of people, sowing new fear in a region still struggling to overcome civil wars that ended just a decade ago. Gangs have replaced guerrillas as public enemy No. 1...

Metropolitan Los Angeles, with a population almost equal to that of Honduras, remains the world capital of street gangs, with an estimated 700 different cliques and more than 110,000 gang members. City and county police officials say half of all homicides there are gang related.
Shuttling Between Nations, Latino Gangs Confound the Law [NY Times]

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