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Imports & Exports: LA Gangs to and fro El Salvador

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In El Salvador there are two prisons that are purely devoted to two gangs that originated in Los Angeles. How did this transnational network come about? Deportation for one. When a gang member serves a sentence in California and then deported to their home country, the gang business moves with them. Bruce Riordan, director of anti-gang operations in the LA city attorney's office told the New York Times that, "these gangs are the new and emerging organized crime in America."

Mr. Riordan traces the growth of transnational gangs to the Sept. 11 attacks and a resulting shift in federal law enforcement resources. “In the late 1990s, we were having a lot of success convicting the leadership of the Mexican Mafia, 18th Street Gang and the Rolling 60s,” he said, referring to three of the largest of the estimated 1,000 gangs in Los Angeles County. “The events of 9/11 led to a shift of resources away from domestic violent crimes to terrorism.”

That shift, along with a vacuum created by a decline in traditional organized crime networks, allowed transnational gangs to gain a foothold in the narcotics trade and human trafficking, Mr. Riordan said. [New York Times]

Albeit a criticized move
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by many, earlier this year, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa got hardcore on hardcore gangs in Los Angeles by publishing the top targeted gangs with a top ten list of the most wanted gang members.

Photo by Señor Codo via Flickr