Why MS-13 is so important to our national security?

There is a lot of media discussion regarding Attorney General Jeff Session’s recent comments and direction to law enforcement locally and nationally to ramp up enforcement to combat the infamous “MS-13” street gang.

However, if one is not a gang investigator or a member of the law enforcement community, few know anything about this violent transnational gang.

Latino gang members, including those in MS-13,  from Southern California and from the Southwest regions of the United States, Mexico and Central America are referred to as “Surenos.” The earliest gang activity centered around the Hispanic, and predominantly Mexican barrios of Los Angeles and East Los Angeles. The “13” refers to the letter ‘M’ for “EME,” or an association with the extremely violent Mexican Mafia prison gang which are Surenos.

Today, the MS-13 gang extends from the U.S., down through Mexico to the Central American triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. 

U.S. law enforcement first recognized the MS-13 as a serious gang menace in the 1990’s and under the Clinton presidency began an enforcement and deportation program. 


However, once the illegal alien gang members started to be returned to their native Central American countries, they used the sophisticated street gang methods they learned in Southern California to consolidate and strengthen their gang populations and criminal activities to a point where the far less sophisticated Latin American police were overwhelmed and relatively powerless to control them.


Currently, the MS-13 have diversified their criminal activities to include extortions, kidnappings, control of the lucrative drug trade and sex trafficking operations. Stateside, the MS-13 have formed an alliance with the Mexican Mafia.

In Mexico, they operate with the Zeta and Sinaloa drug cartels, where they transport narcotics and hire out as assassins. In the U.S., the MS-13 gangs have been responsible for scores of brutal murders of young teens and adults.

While the MS-13 gang has been correctly classified as a transnational gang, it is not a sophisticated operation as are the Mexican or Central American drug cartels that we are familiar with.

The MS-13 has no real central leadership core. It has practically no rules or policies and operates more like other American Hispanic street gangs with “cliques” claiming and protecting small barrios and cities, all the way to regional turfs.

It is the level of extreme violence, the sociopathy of its relatively young members, its alliances with sophisticated major drug cartels and the Mexican Mafia prison gang and its transnational reach that make the MS-13 street gang a formidable adversary of law enforcement and a national security challenge to all Americans.

My new boss Department of Justice Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHarris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House The Memo: Team Trump looks to Pence to steady ship in VP debate MORE as correctly identified this serious gang menace and directed U.S. law enforcement to seek out and to remove its members and organization from our streets through both imprisonment and deportation to their native countries.

So far, the actions of both President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE and Sessions have been lauded by law enforcement agencies previously obstructed and frustrated by the previous administration’s inability to provide critical support of funding and manpower needed to fight this important battle.

Ron Martinelli is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist and police expert, who directs the nation’s only multidisciplinary Forensic Death Investigations and Independent Review Team. Dr. Martinelli is a retired police detective and a former gang investigator who is now a retained law enforcement expert for the U.S. Department of Justice. He is the author of the popular new book, “The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police” (Amazon.com). His forensic site is found at www.DrRonMartinelli.com.

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