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by Peter Moskos

March 24, 2011

Slash and Burn

Aggressive crackdowns on criminal organizations in Mexico and Colombia have increasingly brought the powerful drug syndicates into Central America.

We winning yet?


OrlandoFlorida said...

Not winning and won't. Thanks to the U.S. and "foreign policy", we've helped to create and sustain powerful transnational gangs like Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)and hybrids like Sur-13 that will not only help to continue this "drug war" in Central America and Mexico, but has fueled violence and increased gang related activity inside the U.S.

MS-13, a violent gang (however, dissimilar from notorious street gangs like the Crips, Bloods and Latin Kings in culture) has a foothold throughout the U.S. but takes marching orders primarily from Central America, predominately El Salvador.

MS-13 members originated from Central America and Mexico as far back as the late 1980's, infiltrating the U.S. through the Mexican border, first settling into Los Angeles as civil war refugees of the Guatamalan/El Salvadoran conflicts that again, the U.S. helped to foment.

Today, MS-13 is so powerful as to be considered much more than a U.S. gang threat. Because they are so pervasive within the U.S., so violent and connected to drug/gun trafficking they have been tagged as a transnational gang by DHS.

U.S. policy is to deport members of MS-13 and hybrids like SUR-13, (mostly - duh - illegals) back to countries of origin. This has given gang members the ability to move back and forth from the U.S. to points of origination mainly in Central America. As long as the borders along the U.S. and Mexico are wide open, the "drug war" is a revolving door. Violent transnationals are busted in the U.S., deported back to countries of origin, re-enter the U.S. through Mexico and the cycle repeats.

This "drug war" has a long history that goes back to the United States involvement in the destabilization of the Central American government in the 1950's-70's. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador uprisings in the 70', propping up Nicaragua, and the U.S. supplying weapons and training Noriega through the School of the Americas contributed to the development of gangs like MS-13 within the United States.

I am from Central Florida where there is, by recent FBI Florida gang stats, a huge presence of transnationals. In fact, in Apopka, Florida (a suburb outside of Orlando where I live) police agencies are focused on controlling SUR-13 activity. Check out crime stats for Orlando, the innocent,Disneyesque dream of most tourists. Pretty interesting...

I did a grad research paper on the emergence of MS-13 which led me back to our early involvement in Central America's civil struggles, Jimmy Carter's expansion of the Refugee Act and Reagan's denial of political asylum for Central Americans....which created illegals....300,000 in LA...and the creation of MS-13. Man, WE are good at this..

Mr. Moskos...as you comment in chapter one of your book...'IT JUST DON'T MAKE SENSE. I would be interested in your comments regarding our now transnational gang problem, particularly gangs like MS-13, and how we can "fix" the "drug war" with our current stance on not closing borders....

Sitting in a hotel in the Eastern District of Baltimore on Gay and Fallsway...two doors down from the Baltimore PD station... Cherie, from Florida.

PCM said...

My first that after reading all that was "There's no hotel in the Eastern!"

[There was a Super 8 on Pulaski Hwy. Man, that place was trouble: where the Eastern went to party. And still is trouble. (And pity the poor tourists who thought they were just getting a cheap room for the night.)]

Your hotel was a vacant building when I was there, and just now I didn't even think that location even is the Eastern. But it is, I guess, at the far S.W. tip of the district.

You're two block from H.Q.

As to closing the borders to the U.S.:

We can't. It's impossible. And even if we could, it would kill our economy by keeping trade and good immigrants out of our country. We don't want to do either.

Really, I don't think the drug war can be fixed. It could be ended. Or we keep it in name but stop fighting it (turn the clock back to 1970). Or we could keep fighting it and keep fucking everything up. My good money is on us doing the latter.

OrlandoFlorida said...

This hotel was an old bank building from the 1920's that was renovated. Very nice place...but on the border of the East. Dist. accoring to your parameters. Funny...I was in the lobby yesterday. They bake chocolate chip cookies late in the afternoon - around 5:30 a cop runs in the side door and says "don't worry, I am not here for you" I thought that was strange...he rushed over and grabbed a bunch of cookies...guy at the desk said that he's been doing this since the hotel opened. They hang out here and use the computer, watch TV...and eat cookies. He was an Italian guy...looked young, but the desk clerk said that he had been with the BPD for 15 years...

PCM said...

The ways of Sector One... (I was Sector Two, around Broadway and Hopkins hospital)

But honestly, that is the nicest place to appear in the Eastern in like 60 years. If I worked there, I would hang out there, too.

Anonymous said...

Forcing the enemy to retreat can be counted as a military victory.
And maybe, as some sort of policing/counter-insurgency success on Mexico's part.

PCM said...

But they're not retreating. If this was a retreat, then you might expect some sign of victory, like fewer drugs. That's not what I see.