Skip to comments.[Laredo:]Tracking gangs; Law officers see increase, but say it's all through traffic
Posted on 04/01/2008 12:07:50 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch
Members of rival El Salvadorian gangs were arrested by Border Patrol agents over the weekend just north of Laredo on Interstate 35, an indicator of the increasing through traffic by violent gang members the Laredo Police Department has noticed in recent months."Mostly they're transient," said Sgt. Armando Elizondo, supervisor of LPD's Juvenile Enforcement Team, which deals with local gang activity. "They use this area as a crossing point."
Sunday, a 22-year-old gang member was arrested by agents at the Texas Travel Information Center at the 18-mile marker on the interstate at about 2 p.m. He had tattoos showing he's a member of El Salvador's 18th Street, a rival gang of MS-13.
Later that same day, at about 9 p.m., Border Patrol agents at the checkpoint on I-35 arrested a 25-year-old man whose tattoos show he's a member of the deadly Mara Salvatrucha gang, also known as MS-13.
Updated numbers for gang member apprehensions were not immediately available Monday, but Border Patrol figures released in December showed a definite trend upward.
From Oct. 1, 2006, to Sept. 30, 2007, there were 65 gang members detained, of which 35 were believed to be MS-13. From Oct. 1, 2007, to Dec. 15, 2007, the number of MS-13 members caught was already at 20.
Greg Salinas, spokesman for the Border Patrol Laredo Sector, said time spent in the field and education is enhancing agents' ability to identify gang members and make arrests.
"More than anything I think it's the experience of our agents being able to identify (and become) more knowledgeable with the gang affiliation, with the tattoos," Salinas said. "I think that's what it can be credited toward, the experience of our agents."
The 22-year-old, for example, had "distinctive" tattoos on the ring finger, upper arm and inside the lower lip that identified him as a member of the 18th Street gang member.
Elizondo, the LPD sergeant, said most young Laredoans who participate in gang activity are involved in local prison gangs, such as Texas Syndicate, Mexican Mafia and Hermanos Pistoleros. For now, Elizondo said, there is little concern about the Central American gang recruiting local members.
Gang members originating from Central America, such as MS-13 and 18th Street, usually are just passing through Laredo, Elizondo said, heading out of state, specifically to Chicago, New York and increasingly to Atlanta and areas in North Carolina.
"We one time asked a sergeant in charge of the gang unit in Charlotte, North Carolina, (who) said our No. 1 gang problem is Mara Salvatrucha,'" Elizondo said.
The JET Division has received numerous reports that MS-13 gang members cross here to venture north. One of Nuevo Laredo's largest shelters for immigrants offers a place to stay and a hot meal without asking any questions, which tends to attract those seeking to cross the Rio Grande illegally, including the Central American gang members.
"They hang around the riverbanks until they get a chance to cross over," Elizondo said, adding Mexican immigration executed raids on the gangs' activities at one time, but it is expensive to deport the gang members.
According to the FBI, MS-13 operates in at least 42 states and its members "engage in a wide range of criminal activity, including drug distribution, murder, rape, prostitution, robbery, home invasions, immigration offenses, kidnapping, carjackings/auto thefts and vandalism."
The 18th Street gang has also been connected to criminal activity in the United States involving narcotics, firearms, immigration violations and violent offenses, according to the FBI.
The gang members arrested near Laredo on Sunday were processed and prepared for deportation.
(Ashley Richards may be reached at 728-2538 or by e-mail at email@example.com)
Drug distribution, murder, rape, prostitution, robbery, home invasions, immigration offenses, kidnapping, carjackings/auto thefts and vandalism. are nothing to be concerned about, Elizondo?
.”Mostly they’re transient,” said Sgt. Armando Elizondo, supervisor of LPD’s Juvenile Enforcement Team, which deals with local gang activity. “They use this area as a crossing point.”
Well, as long as they are not staying I guess it is not a problem.
Los dos Laredos Ping!
If you want on, or off this S. Texas/Mexico ping list, please FReepMail me.
See my tagline.
Hey Laredo do us a favor and put a stamp on their heads with a fifty lb sledge before you send em north so we can identify themm.