America's Most Dangerous Gang
Mara Salvatrucha 13
NATIONAL TERROR ALERT
America's Most Dangerous Gang
by Shelly Feuer Domash
Spreading from El Salvador to L.A. and across the United States, Mara Salvatrucha 13 is increasingly well organized and deadly.
Within one hour, two people were found murdered miles apart in suburban Nassau County, N.Y. After an intensive investigation, police officials learned the murders were the work of the violent street gang Mara Salvatrucha 13. It also soon became apparent the gang was sending a bold message to its members and associates. That message: "If you are not loyal, you are dead."
But there was another message in the brutal slayings for the people of Long Island. And that message was that gang violence had moved into the upper middle class enclaves of the Island, into the kinds of communities where the locals assume that crime is somebody else's problem.
Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) is unfortunately becoming everybody's problem. This plague that came to Long Island from El Salvador by way of the streets of Los Angeles follows the same migratory patterns as the Salvadoran immigrant community that it preys upon, fanning out across the United States from ethnic enclaves in California.
Until recently, MS-13 wasn't that big a player in East Coast gang culture. The reason for its weak position in the East Coast crime world was obvious: It wasn't very well organized. MS-13 was comprised of a group of cliques that operated independently of each other.
No more. Law enforcement officials now report that gang members from across the country have come together to unite affiliated groups up and down the East Coast. The leadership for these cliques is now coming from as far away as California and even from El Salvador.
Robert Hart, senior agent in charge with the FBI, says that when individual groups of MS-13 unite, the results can be devastating. "The cliques, instead of operating independently of each other, are beginning to come together," Hart explains. "The difference is by doing that, obviously you have a much tighter organization, much stronger structures and, instead of having various cliques doing whatever they want, wherever they want, there is one individual who is the leader and is able to control the payment of dues and the criminal acts they engage in. The result is very, very similar to what you would see in what we refer to as traditional organized criminal families."
Los Angeles and New York law enforcement and even politicians are aware of the impact of MS-13 on their streets and on their crime statistics. So they've taken action. The results are usually not stellar, but at least these cities have recognized that MS-13 is a problem. Unfortunately, the leadership of MS-13 is not stupid. Once the heat comes down hard in L.A. and New York, they head for new turf, choosing Midwestern and Southern and suburban cities where gangs "are not an issue" and local officials and authorities are in denial.
And once MS-13 takes hold in a community, it grows fast. The gang reportedly has some 300 members in suburban Long Island. A few years back it didn't have any.
Once MS-13 shows up on the radar, some local officials and authorities will take action. In Nassau County, for example, a joint gang task force headed by the FBI and comprised of local police departments, has arrested 16 leaders of MS-13. They were charged with two murders, assault, conspiracy, and firearms violations.
Such investigations aren't easy because MS-13 has a pretty strident zero-tolerance policy toward anyone who informs the cops of their activities.
Court papers reveal that one of the Nassau County defendants was captured in a secretly recorded telephone conversation detailing how he killed a male victim because he had provided law enforcement officials with information and that he had "put one in his chest and three in the head." In another recorded conversation, a second defendant said he killed a young female because, in part, she had also provided information to law enforcement.
The senseless violence of MS-13 has shocked the local citizens of Nassau County, so the Nassau County Executive appointed a "gang czar" to deal with the increasing gang problem.
A seasoned, dedicated officer, the new "czar," in reality, will find it difficult to accomplish what he has been mandated to do. His department, like many across the nation, is at its lowest staffing levels in recent history, and he has been given no additional personnel or resources to combat the problem. The public was placated by the appointment, but while politicians put Band-Aids on deep cuts, the problem continues to escalate on Long Island.
And Long Island is not alone. Nationally, police departments are dealing with the surge in violence emanating from MS-13 members.
In Charlotte, N.C., 53 gang members were arrested as part of Operation Fed Up, which targeted MS-13 members. Officials in the medium-sized Southern city say MS-13 has been involved in at least 11 murders in the Charlotte area since 2000. And with a membership estimated at 200, MS-13 is by far Charlotte's largest gang.
Some 400 miles north of Charlotte, the northern Virginia and southern Maryland communities around Washington, D.C., have become MS-13 turf. Local authorities estimate that there are between 5,000 and 6,000 MS-13 members in the metropolitan area.
And where MS-13 goes, violence follows. In July 2003, an 18-year-old federal witness was stabbed to death; last May, a 16-year-old boy had his hands almost completely chopped off with a machete; and a week later a 17-year-old was shot and murdered. All three crimes were tied to MS-13 members.
The rapid increase in MS-13 activity along the corridor between Charlotte and D.C. is simply explained by Det. Tim Jolly, a gang specialist with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The area has the nation's second highest population of Salvadoran immigrants.
Gang of Chameleons
One of the more unusual aspects of MS-13 when compared to other street gangs is that it is extremely flexible in its activity. While some gangs are only into drugs, MS-13 will do any crime at any time.
Sgt. George Norris, supervisor of the gang unit in the Prince George's County (Md.) Police Department, says MS-13 doesn't sling drugs in his jurisdiction. "We see mostly citizen robberies, auto theft, shootings and cuttings, and homicides," he says, adding that drug sales by MS-13 may be just a matter of time.
Violent and Vicious
When MS-13 moves into a new community it tends to announce its presence with violence. The same can be true when a new leader takes over the local cliques.
Norris says gang members from other areas had once been able to join the new gang by simply being "jumped in." But now that new leaders have moved into Prince George's County and consolidated the cliques, the gang's local culture has become more violent and vicious.
"According to one of our informers, things have changed," says Norris. "Now in order to get your letters or clique [symbols] tattooed on you, you have to also put in some violent act to show your commitment."
And MS-13 violence is not restricted to civilians, rival gang members, and clique traitors; the gang will go after cops. Threats against police officers, known to gang members as "green light" notices, have increased so much in the past few years that the Virginia Gang Association has warned officers in Virginia and states to the north and south to be wary of MS-13 members.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg's Jolly says he is aware of the threats against police officers in his community and in Virginia. Prince George's County's Norris says he's heard them, too. "If you do something to them, their natural response is, 'OK, I'm going to kill you,'" he says. "Or at least they talk like they will."
Norris dismisses some of MS-13's threats, but that doesn't mean that officers should take all MS-13 threats lightly. The gang is extremely violent and it has attacked and will continue to attack anyone who gets in its way. That includes law enforcement officers.
Roots of Evil
Named for La Mara, a street in San Salvador, and the Salvatrucha guerillas who fought in El Salvador's bloody civil war, Mara Salvatrucha 13 was organized in Los Angeles in the late '80s. At first, the gang's primary purpose was to defend Salvadoran immigrants from being preyed upon by other L.A. street gangs.
But like any other street gang that was created to defend a particular ethnic group, MS-13 was quickly perverted until its primary purpose was preying upon the Salvadoran community. It also violently defends its turf against any other gang that might seek to slice away a piece of its action.
Gang members sometimes wear blue and white, colors taken from the national flag of El Salvador. They can also sport numerous body and even face tattoos. However, some members are much less visible and therefore much more dangerous.
Recent reports indicate that MS-13 has expanded from California to Alaska, Oregon, Utah, Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Washington, D.C., and Florida. The gang has also been exported back to Central America.
It's estimated that there are 36,000 MS-13 members in Honduras alone. In Honduras, according to a March 2004 report prepared by the Washington, D.C.-based, right-wing think tank the Maldon Institute, MS-13 has, with increasing frequency, resorted to leaving a dismembered corpse, complete with a decapitated head, as a calling card. Recently, according to the report, such a grisly message was left with a note for the Honduran president.
The note is supposed to have stated the gang's displeasure with an August 2003 law that made it illegal to be a part of a gang. Under Honduran law gang leaders can be sentenced to prison for up to 12 years and rank-and-file members from six to nine years, just for being in the gang. A gang member can be arrested for simply having a tattoo.
El Salvador has also launched a crackdown on MS-13. A police offensive called "Operation Strong-arm" has resulted in the arrest of more than 4,000 gang members.
For MS-13, these are small losses. The gang is nothing if not mobile. When it feels heat in the U.S., it moves to another state. When it feels heat in El Salvador and Honduras, it sets up operations in Mexico.
The Maldon Institute report indicates that MS-13 "appears to be in control of much of the Mexican border and, in addition to its smuggling and contraband rackets, the gang collects money from illegal immigrants that it helps [move] across the border into the United States."
The ultra-conservative Maldon Institute is known for doomsday predictions when it comes to the U.S.-Mexico border. But there can be no denial that MS-13 is very active in smuggling people, drugs, and guns across the border. And independent reports indicate that many illegal immigrants have been assaulted, robbed, and even raped by MS-13 members.
Mexico is now taking steps to fight back against MS-13. In December, Mexican authorities arrested 224 gang members in response to what they called a threat to national security. Among the arrests were members of MS-13 who were charged with trafficking in drugs and firearms across Mexico and Central America.
Illusion of Cooperation
While some of the Central American countries appear to be cracking down on MS-13, serious problems still exist. And they are being missed by politically correct reporters who want to tout U.S.-Latin American cooperation.
For example, on Long Island, the media was quick to cover an agreement between El Salvador and Suffolk County to share information on MS-13. What the local reporters didn't cover was a much more serious issue. If these gang members commit serious offenses, they can return home, and there is no extradition agreement. And, of course, they are doing so in increasing numbers.
"I would say that between Honduras and El Salvador, there are seven or eight people we are seeking to take into custody," says Lt. Dennis Farrell, head homicide investigator for the Nassau County Police Department. "Proportionally, if you take that across the country, the numbers are astronomical, the number of people who have probably fled to these two countries."
Farrell says that two gang members who his detectives are looking to arrest for two separate murders are now living in the same town in El Salvador. He calls the situation extremely frustrating. "You undertake a very in-depth and comprehensive investigation, pursue all possible leads, build a case, essentially conduct a successful investigation, only to have it thwarted by the fact that after having identified the killer or killers, you are unable, under the present international agreements, to return them to Nassau County to face murder charges.
"Even more than that frustration, how about the injustice and sense of desperation on the part of families who have lost loved ones? Where is the measure of justice? There is really no justice for those families, and absent some reworked or new initiative between our state department and those sovereign states, I don't see any change in this condition in the foreseeable future," Farrell adds.
In addition to extradition treaties, many gang investigators believe stricter and more uniform laws are needed here in this country. According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg's Jolly, one of the reasons MS-13 has migrated to the East Coast is the strict anti-gang laws on the West Coast. He also believes that, with the stricter gang laws in Central America, many MS-13 members may be coming back to the United States illegally.
With the number of MS-13 members growing nationwide (some cliques now even accept non-Hispanic members), and the violence escalating, the future for law enforcement appears grim.
"They adapt to what the police do," says Prince George's County's Norris. "They will change the way they operate, depending on the way things are enforced by the police. If there is no enforcement, they will wear their colors and bandanas because in the communities they are in it is common knowledge and the people fear them, so it is a form of intimidation.
"Once the police recognize and confront them, they will change and wear different colors from the blue and white, no bandana on their head, maybe now in their pocket, and instead of the number 13 they will wear 67 or 76 because it equals 13. They adapt so it is a continually evolving thing."
While the nation focuses on terrorism, the issue of gang violence has taken a lower priority. But to many, the violent acts of MS-13 members are more of an everyday threat that is being overlooked.
Shelly Feuer Domash is a Long Island-based freelance writer and a frequent contributor to POLICE magazine.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.(Redirected from Mara Salvatrucha (MS, MS-13))
Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13, MS,
In the early 1980s, a violent civil war began in El Salvador which would last more than 12 years. Approximately 100,000 people were killed in the war, and more than one million people fled from El Salvador to the U.S. The Salvadorian refugees and immigrants initially settled primarily in southern California and Washington, D.C.
Some of the refugees and immigrants had ties with 'La Mara', a violent street gang from El Salvador. Others had been members of paramilitary groups like the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMNL) during the civil war. FMNL was made up of Salvadorian peasants who were trained as guerilla fighters. Many were adept at using explosives, firearms, and booby traps.
Most of the Salvadorian refugees settled in the established Hispanic neighborhoods of the "Rampart" area of Los Angeles. However, Salvadorians were not readily accepted into the Los Angeles Hispanic community, and were frequently targeted by local Hispanic gangs. As a result, in the late 1980s, some refugees and refugee members of La Mara and FMNL formed what is now known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS) street gang in Los Angeles. Like many other street gangs, MS initially formed for protection, but quickly developed a reputation for being organized and extremely violent. MS membership continues to be fed by refugees from groups like FMNL.
Since its inception in California and Washington, DC, Mara Salvatrucha has expanded into Oregon, Alaska, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Canada, and Mexico. MS is unique in that, unlike traditional U.S. street gangs, it maintains active ties with MS members and factions in El Salvador. Mara Salvatrucha is literally an international gang.
Mara Salvatrucha gang members maintain contact between groups in the United States and El Salvador for several specific reasons. In El Salvador, a hand grenade sells for $1.00-$2.00 U.S. currency and an M-16 rifle will sell for approximately $200.00-$220.00 U.S. dollars. This communication and alliance provides a mechanism for MS gang members to access military-style munitions and also establishes a network to traffic illegal firearms into the United States.
Although military weapons seem to be readily available to this gang, street intelligence indicates they often have difficulty obtaining handguns, which are not readily available in El Salvador. This creates a demand for small arms by MS members in the U.S. and El Salvador. This demand is so high that MS members will often take handguns as payment for drug transactions. The guns are then sent back to El Salvador, or used in the United States.
MS is also involved in exporting stolen U.S. cars to South America. The cars are often traded for drugs when dealing with cartels. It is estimated that 80% of the cars driven in El Salvador were stolen in the United States. Car theft is a lucrative business for MS.
The Mara Salvatrucha gang is involved in a variety of criminal enterprises. As with members of other gangs, MS members seem willing to commit almost any crime, but MS gang members tend to have a higher level of criminal involvement than other gang members. MS members have been involved in burglaries, auto thefts, narcotic sales, home invasion robberies, weapons smuggling, car jacking, extortion, murder, rape, witness intimidation, illegal firearm sales, car theft and aggravated assaults. In terms of drug trafficking activities, common drugs sold by MS members include cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine. Mara Salvatrucha gang members have even placed a "tax" on prostitutes and non-gang member drug dealers who are working in MS "turf." Failure to pay up will most likely result in violence.
Originally, only Salvadorians could become members of Mara Salvatrucha. However, MS now includes members from Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Mara Salvatrucha also has a few African-American members. MS has broken the race barrier for membership, but most new members are still selected because of their ethnic (Central American) background. The majority of MS gang members are between the ages of 11 and 40 years old.
Mara Salvatrucha members identify themselves with tattoos such as the number "13," or trece in Spanish. MS gang members will also use the Spanish word sureño, meaning "southerner" to identify themselves. Sometimes sureño is abbreviated to SUR. These terms make reference to the fact that MS gang members like to claim they are from southern California as opposed to northern California, and are rivals with northern California gangs. Often, this rivalry is taken outside the state of California. Additionally, Mara Salvatrucha gang members have several ongoing rivalries with large southern California gangs, including the 18th Street gang, and in California, commonly attack 18th Street gang members on sight. There are many Hispanic gangs, including MS, which use the number "13," and the terms sureno and SUR as identifiers, including street/prison gangs outside of California. Thus, it is important to identify specific tattoos used by the Mara Salvatrucha gang, which include "M" or "MS," in addition to the 13 or SUR identification. Another common tattoo seen is "Salvadorian Pride." There is also a good chance that the member will also have the name of his particular clique tattooed on his/her body. Other tattoos encountered with MS members have included pentagrams and other occult symbols. These can be confusing when found in conjunction with gang tattoos and can cause misconceptions of Satanic involvement by the gang. The most common hand sign used by MS members is the letter M formed by using three fingers and pointing the hand downward. This handsign can resemble the pitchfork sign used by Folk/People Nation gangs from the Midwest, and can be made with the fingers pointing up or down. The symbols used as tattoos are also used in graffiti and personal writings.
In general, Mara Salvatrucha members show no fear of law enforcement. They are not easily intimidated and frequently act defiantly. Mara Salvaltrucha gang members have been responsible for the execution of three federal agents and numerous shootings of law enforcement officers across the country. MS gang members have been known to booby-trap their drug stash houses using antipersonnel grenades on the assumption that these structures will be searched by law enforcement. MS members at one time often bragged of assaulting law enforcement officers as a means of showing their loyalty and commitment to the gang. However, these claims have never been confirmed. Today, assaults on law enforcement officers are not required for membership, but are always an option. Thus, officers dealing with MS members (or any street gang members, for that matter) should always use extreme caution.
Law enforcement and the courts have used two primary methods to deal with criminal activity by MS: arrest/incarceration and deportation. Between April 1994 and August 1995, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) arrested and deported more than 100 MS gang members to El Salvador. Many Mara Salvatrucha gang members are currently in the United States illegally and are concerned about deportation. If a gang member is deported to El Salvador, there is a chance they will be targeted by the Sombra Negra (Black Shadow) death squad. Sombra Negra and similar groups are legendary in Central America. Gangsters and citizens alike believe that the Sombra Negra is made up of rogue cops and military personnel who target unwanted criminals and gang members for vigilante "justice." While the presence of these death squads is officially denied by the governments of Central American countries, many MS members in the U.S. believe these groups exist, and fear that they will be targeted after being deported. Honduran MS gang members have the same fear. Sombra Negra has claimed responsibility for the deaths of several MS gang members in El Salvador. The existence or belief in the existence of these death squads could also be a chief motivation for hardcore MS gang members to come to the United States.
Bush's Open Borders
HymieGoldstein Dec 2 2004, 4:12 am
Newsgroups: alt.security.terrorism From: "HymieGoldstein" <drn...@aol.com> - Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 05:12:10 -0700 Local: Thurs, Dec 2 2004 4:12 am Subject: Bush's Open Borders Focused as we are on Fourth Generation war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is
easy to forget that the phenomenon is vastly larger than any single war or
opponent, even Islam. An article in a local Washington paper, The Journal,
reminds us that 4GW is also being fought on American soil, by parties that
have nothing to do with the armies of the Prophet.
The article, by staff writer Robert Arkell, was titled "Police: MS-13
threatened Maryland officers:"
The notorious E1 Salvadoran gang known as MS-13 has threatened to execute
Prince George's County police officers as tensions continue to escalate
between officers and gang members, police said.
MS-13, which stands for Mara Salvatrucha, has increased its presence in
Prince George's County with more than 600 active members.
Some of those MS-13 gang members recently confided to police about carrying
out a deadly ambush plan that targeted county police officers.
If members of a gang based on a foreign ethnic identity ambush cops, it is
more than a crime: it is an act of war, Fourth Generation war to be precise.
Hopefully, it will not happen in Prince George's County. But it has happened
elsewhere in the United States. It is not for nothing that the Los Angeles
Sheriff's Department is a more avid student of 4GW theory than any American
Future historians will find it interesting that at the same time a
supposedly conservative President has enmeshed us in Fourth Generation wars
abroad, he has opened the flood gates to importing Fourth Generation enemies
at home. President Bush's first act upon reelection was to resurrect his
proposal for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. It is a safe bet that MS-13
gang members would be among those who benefit from such an amnesty if
Congress were so foolish as to allow it to become law.
Mara Salvatrucha - MS 13
NOTE: The following information is the product of a research group. Although it appears to be accurate and thorough, law enforcement sources may disagree with portions of the content.
Mara Salvatrucha Introduction
A dismembered body of an adolescent male was found in northern Honduras, at the end of February 2004 together with a message for Honduran President Ricardo Maduro. The message warned that if the government continued to target street gangs, 'more people will die. This is another challenge ' the next victims will be police and journalists.'
Two weeks after his inauguration in January, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger received a similar message on a note attached to the body of a dismembered dead man.
Both messages were signed �Mara Salvatrucha 13� (MS13), the name shared by the largest group of criminal street gangs in the United States and Central America. These gangs are called 'Maras' after an ant that attacks in swarms and devours everything in its path. It originated among Salvadoran emigrants in Los Angeles some 19 years ago in the mid-1980s. The name 'Salvatrucha' loosely refers to 'Salvadoran guerrillas' or fighters. The number '13' is considered a 'good luck' number. In just under two decades, the Maras have proliferated throughout Central America and have moved into many cities in the United States and Canada.
In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a �violent street gang� as a �criminal enterprise having an organizational structure, acting as a continuing criminal conspiracy, which employs violence and any other criminal activity to sustain the enterprise.�
Mara Salvatrucha 13 falls within this definition. Numbering more than 250,000 gang members in Central America and significant numbers in the tens of thousands in the United States, it has created an international group of criminals within the country. Many of these are second generation illegal immigrants, male, mostly over the age of 11 but generally under 21.
In the Los Angeles area, there are said to be at least 10,000 MS13 members with 95 percent of the homicide arrest warrants against them still outstanding. In Northern Virginia there are 3,500 MS13 members reported by the police, with a concentration of 1,500 in Fairfax County alone. Research for this report has established significantly large MS13 gang concentrations in 15 states and some Canadian cities.
A Fairfax County police official said of MS13, 'We know it is a losing battle. When we run them out of here, we just move them to another location. We just contain what we have. We know we can't get rid of them.'
The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) has noted the following information through the review of survey responses received from 301 law-enforcement agencies throughout the country: Hispanic gangs, such as Mara Salvatrucha 13 and its offshoots were reported in 167 jurisdictions in 41 states and make up 29 percent of all gangs reported within the continental United States.
NOTE: The numbers given in this report of 'gangstas' are spectacular. They were taken from international, national and domestic police reports and the media. We believe them to be good estimates but they ignore the mobility and cross-border nature of the problems. In Central America, as elsewhere not every member of a gang is a killer, many just 'hang out,' and do odd jobs of a non-criminal nature for their gang leaders in the villages and barrios where they live. However, every one of them has to be considered potentially armed, dangerous and capable of committing brutal murders.
The story of Mara Salvatrucha 13 is inevitably also the story of El Salvador and the results of its twelve-year civil war. From 1980 until 1992, the fighting between the Salvadoran government and the communist rebels claimed over 75,000 lives and sent more than one million refugees and immigrants to the United States and to its neighbors throughout Central America. In the United States, most of the Salvadoran expatriates initially settled in one of two areas, concentrating either in Los Angeles or in Northern Virginia.
In Los Angeles, the Salvadorans settled in the Rampart area and were rejected as outsiders by the local Hispanic [Chicano or second and third generation Mexican American] community. They were often the targets of Latino and black street gangs. In response, some of the Salvadorans began to form their own gangs for self-protection. These new protective gangs were not dissimilar in their origins to those of many other ethnicities who have emigrated in waves and experienced similarly directed violence ' the Germans, Irish, Italians, Chinese and many others. The Salvadoran gangs found what they were seeking ' instant street protection and respect, an alternative caring 'family' and financial security. The costs were carried by an alien society who had refused to accept them.
The act of emigration itself combined with the ethnic concentration in Los Angeles meant that a self-selecting group had risen to power to form the 'protection' for the whole. Some arrived in the United States having had ties to La Mara, a violent street gang in El Salvador. Many had actually seen fighting in El Salvador's civil war. Exmembers of the paramilitary Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) [Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front] also numbered among the early founders of Mara Salvatrucha. The FMLN had fought an insurgency against the Salvadoran government, using guerilla tactics and urban terrorism, and as a result many Salvadorans arrived in Los Angeles as 'veterans,' already adept in the use of explosives, firearms and booby traps.
The development of the MS in El Salvador and Central America is said to have been an unforeseen consequence of the Rodney King riots of 1990 in Los Angeles. In the wake of these riots, a task force was formed by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, which deported at least 1,000 MS members to El Salvador. There were many other unnumbered 'voluntary departures.' In San Salvador, the MS cadre had two ambitions ' first, to become involved in a criminal enterprise and become financially secure; second, to return to the United States.
Those that remained or returned to the United States wanted financial security, respect based on fear from their immediate community and power. To achieve this, MS has had to eliminate or control other ethnic gangs, with Mexican criminal groups being a major and continuing target.
Since its inception, MS has expanded beyond its 'hubs' of Los Angeles and Northern Virginia, though its numbers in these cities continue to grow at alarming rates. Nationwide, however, MS has expanded into Oregon, Alaska, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Florida. They also are spreading in Canada and Mexico. Some reports place MS 'cliques'[sub-units of gang members] in 49 states ' with Hawaii escaping the infestation to date.
This simple gang-clique structure essentially comprises the entirety of the formal Mara Salvatrucha 13 organization. In Virginia, for example, it is known that MS members attend monthly gang meetings, and then once a month [generally on a Saturday] also attend a separate clique meeting. These smaller 'cliques' can range in size from a dozen to 80 members, and each will feature its own distinct name. The actual nickname given to a member is usually based on his clique membership.
The straightforward, fundamental approach to 'organizing' a gang has many advantages and may in fact have its roots in advice brought back from FMLN experience and training provided by the Cuban Direcci'n General de Inteligencia (DGI) [Main Directorate of Intelligence]. This apparent simplicity combined with the almost unrivalled brutality of MS13 should not lead to any false conclusions regarding a lack of sophistication. To the contrary, the simple nature of the organization lends itself well to flexibility, and the wide geographic distribution of the cliques also has resulted in an extensive range of options available from the collective talent pool. By some accounts, many cliques 'specialize' in a field or 'occupation,' from the street-level professions of car jacking and narcotics sales, to computer hacking, wire fraud and other similar 'white collar' crimes. Recently, truck hijacking has become popular with MS13. For example, a truck loaded with nationally advertised toilet articles or paper products can be hijacked by a clique and 'redistributed' to a network of corner stores owned and operated by Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants. Sold at heavily discounted prices, the MS13 thieves have quickly earned the Robin Hood label of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
An additional and perhaps inevitable consequence of the scale of the MS13 phenomenon is the extent to which they adeptly use computers and other technology, much like any other large organization. Dealers, car jackers and lookouts carry wireless phones, pagers, radios and police scanners. Virtual communications suites are publicly available, and it is possible that MS has access to the type of electronics and communications advice on which they may have received training in the past for paramilitary endeavors.
On the internet, MS13 is not hard to find. Their unabashed contempt for most authorities is reinforced in the photographs they post on their own websites, hailing their achievements against the police, taunting rivals or simply speaking in bravado-soaked language to communicate with one another. These are hi-tech gangs who e-mail, instant message and use online chat rooms ' interactions that are perfectly normal to their generation of gang members. However, there does not yet appear to be a realization that their careless use offers an opportunity for exploitation by the law-enforcement community.
The MS13 expansion can be traced in part to the movement of the Salvadoran population throughout the United States. Often working as day laborers or in similar undocumented 'hired-help' positions, Salvadorans moved to Tennessee to help in the construction of the Titans' stadium, to Pennsylvania for work in the mushroom farms, to the Midwest for agricultural jobs and to the East and Northeast in search of unskilled factory or service-oriented work. In each instance, the gang may have been brought east from Los Angeles by teenage children or parents and then later, as they became established, developed the larger gang structure in their new communities.
Mara Salvatrucha 13: a Salvadoran International
In Central AmericaMS13 and its contemporaries are so prolific and brazenly aggressive against seemingly ill-fated government countermeasures as to cause the United States� gang problems to pale in comparison. There are an estimated 250,000 gang members in Central America; by contrast there are 108,000 police officers. These are official numbers resulting from a recent survey, however estimates vary considerably. Some put 80,000 gang members in Guatemala alone.
El Salvador: In El Salvador, MS13 members execute their enemies in broad daylight aboard city buses and trains, either then fighting their way out or simply walking away unmolested. The latter is often more common. Given the statistics, it is not difficult to understand why: in the first 35 days of 2004 alone, three witnesses in three different murder cases involving gangs were each killed. At least one, who had testified against MS13 in the murder case of a six-year old boy, was in turn himself gunned down.
El Salvador has attempted a political solution to MS13, with President Francisco Flores initiating the 'Mano Duro' [firm hand] law on a countrywide basis against the gangs to strong opposition from the Marxist and liberal opposition parties. Police and military teams conduct night raids in search of gang members as part of 'Mano Duro,' designed to clear the streets of any gang activity. At the time that the law was being debated President Flores said of Mara, 'If someone is against them, they identify them in the community. They come; they take them out on the street ' kill and mutilate them.'
In January 2003, Flores initiated an international agreement with Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua for cross-border 'hot pursuit' and immediate extradition of those suspected of being Mara members. This comprehensive security agreement allows au thorities to arrest suspected gang members in any of these countries, regardless of their nationality. The agreement also has established procedures for a framework of crossborder intelligence-sharing and the creation of a centralized database on the Maras.
However, presidential elections will take place this month and opposition forces are making heavy use of charges that Mano Duro encourages extra-legal forces ' in the Salvadoran case, the Sombre Negro death squads. The director of El Salvador's National Civil Police has called for the Legislative Assembly to grant immediate approval of a law to protect witnesses and victims of gang violence.
To date, 8,500 gang members have been arrested and charged under Mano Duro legislation, but only some 400 have been convicted. Salvadoran judges allege that the law is unconstitutional.
Mara�s main rivals, in El Salvador and elsewhere including the United States, are Mexican street gangs and more specifically the Mexican 18th Street gang. Several Latin American governments are said to be covertly hiring 18th Street to combat Mara. This could be one possible reason for the recent attempted assassinations of Honduras President Roberto Maduro and National Congress president Porfirio Lobo. A police official said the government has been trying to eliminate MS13 from Honduras and assassination was Mara's way of responding.
Heavily-armed Mara members have challenged government crackdowns on gangrelated violence, drug trafficking and other criminal activities. In recent months, Salvadoran police have arrested nearly 8,000 suspected Mara members and Honduran authorities have arrested more than 1,000 youths as suspected members of Mara.
Salvadoran police have attempted in recent years to intensify their efforts against the gangs, but they fail to keep pace with the criminals. El Salvador officially suffers some 10,500 gang members, according to a Central American police study conducted in the fall of 2003. Non-governmental organizations in El Salvador claim the number of gang members is closer to 30,000. Mara Salvatrucha is by far the dominant gang, not just in El Salvador, but throughout the region, which includes Guatemala and Honduras.
Honduras: Honduras faces a gang situation of nightmare proportions, and MS13 is the main problem. There are at least 36,000 gang members in Honduras. A particularly grisly Mara Salvatrucha 13 calling card has been left with increasing frequency in Honduras: a dismembered corpse, complete with decapitated head, packed into a suitcase to deliver a message, often a note. Recently the notes have consisted of warnings to the Honduran President Maduro.
The MS members arrested recently in Honduras possessed detailed information about the daily movements of both President Maduro and National Congress president Lobo. The information the police seized reportedly included the private office and home telephone numbers of officials and extensive details about the daily movements of their wives and children. Police said the plot to kill Lobo called for a gun or grenade attack in the street or in a restaurant. The MS gunmen also had detailed intelligence, which indicates the gang has achieved an extraordinary degree of organizational sophistication that normally is not found in poor Central American youth gangs. It also suggests that MS has links to larger, more experienced Colombian and Mexican crime syndicates that could be supplying the Maras with such intelligence, because recent crackdowns against the Maras also are affecting the drug-trafficking activities of the large Colombian and Mexican crime organizations.
Both Roberto Maduro and Guatemalan President Oscar Berger threaten the Colombian and Mexican syndicates, because they have vowed to root out drug-related corruption in Honduras and Guatemala.
Guatemala: Guatemala is currently undergoing efforts to reform its National Civil Police. Nevertheless, its commissioner warns that it is still rife with corrupt agents. Reforms need to be effective and swift. Guatemala has some 100,000 gang members, including MS13 and MS18, second in numerical size to Honduras.
It is well established that MS13 runs drugs, guns, stolen cars, all as contraband for sale and trade within their own network of contacts in North and South America. It is perhaps equally likely, and the belief of top law enforcement in Central America, that MS and its contemporaries are really 'the muscle' in a grander scale of operation, much of which is controlled by political figures. These would be the more usual suspects like mafias and cartels that traffic in narcotics, people and children. The use of Mara gangs as brutal hired guns presents a dilemma for Central American law enforcement who are now responding to President Maduro's statement, 'If war is what they want, war is what they will get.'
There is no anti-gang legislation in Guatamala. However, the National Progressive Party has proposed a law supporting the president's �Clean Sweep program that would incarcerate gang members from 8 to 12 years. Human rights groups claim that both convictions and Clean Sweep are uncivilized and believe that rehabilitation for gang members is necessary. To date, the Anti-Crime Alliance has returned 320 gang members to society.
Nicaragua: In Nicaragua, the activities of MS13 provide a mirror image to that found in other parts of the region, with Managua and Le'n experiencing heavy concentrations of gang activity.
Recently, Nicaragua's National Police Chief Edwin Cordero warned that MS and other Central American gangs have organized procedures for moving new recruits from Nicaragua to El Salvador and Honduras. The new recruits are trained in Mara organization and tactics and then sent home to establish new branches. Cordero also said that the Maras are combining organizational skills used by U.S. street gangs, such as the Crips and Latin Kings with indoctrination and training skills that former Central American Marxist groups Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador ' used during the 1980s.
Mexico: Mexico is in a difficult position, both politically and geographically, when dealing with MS13. With unrest rife in the state of Chiapas and the threat of Zapatista action both a constant and substantial pressure, the Mexican government has all it can do without fending off several thousand heavily armed Salvadoran gangsters. However, Mexico can hardly turn its back on its Northern neighbor, whom they are heavily reliant, and simply ignore a steady flow through of illegal gangsters into the United States. The latter is very nearly the situation as the Mexican authorities are simply ill equipped, overwhelmed and uninterested in keeping undesirables out of the United States.
Last month in Mexico City, Federal Attorney General Rafael Maduro de la Concha told reporters that he had never heard of MS13 and that those few who were in Mexico City were �stuck there� on their way to the United States because of a lack of money.
By comparison, Chiapas State Attorney General Mariano Herr�n Salvatti has called for �head-on combat� against the Maras. Along with State Secretary for Public Security Horacio Schroeder, they have launched �Project 02� as a part of the major offensive against MS in Chiapas along the Guatemalan border. Project 02 involves the Mexican Army 4th Motorized Cavalry Regiment, the National Migration Institute, Beta Sur, the State Investigative Agency, the State Sectoral Police, Ministerial Police and Mixed Operation Units. Operations of this combined task force began in 2003, which initially received favorable media attention. However, as a result of a December execution- style death of a Honduran MS leader who was being sought by the police, attention from the press ceased.
The problem is that many Salvadorans who enter Mexico, heading north for the United States, either through a lack of funds or change of intentions, end up remaining in Mexico. Mexico appears powerless to extradite them and is equally unable to combat them on a large-scale, law-enforcement basis, or at least do so and win with measurable results. Mexico also harbors the great fear that a recent anti-gang law jointly adopted between Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador will force expatriate gang members north into Mexico. In the already unstable south, Mexico City can ill afford to counter such a move.
Mara Salvatrucha 13 appears to be in control of much of the southern Mexican border, and in addition to its smuggling and contraband rackets, collects money from illegal immigrants that it helps secrete across the border into the United States. A staging point for illegals is operated by MS13, known locally as migrant hunters, out of Chiapas, moving people and contraband into the United States before it is diverted to its final destination. For all practical purposes, MS13 has control of the railways to the North along the border, and is able to collect a tax-like fee from the precarious roofriders who risk their lives atop the trains to reach the United States.
It is reported that recruiting for MS13 among Mexican adolescents in Chiapas alone has reached the level of 700 a month.
United States: A key factor that separates Mara Salvatrucha from traditional American street gangs is the active link maintained between MS members in the United States and those in El Salvador. The ties between the gangs in the two nations are active, strong and appear to be maintained for several mutually beneficial reasons, as each side provides the other with an asset or a �commodity� not readily available in their respective country.
In El Salvador, the availability of military-grade munitions at bargain-basement prices provides the MS in the United States with cheap and relatively easy access to heavy firepower. Spending U.S. currency in El Salvador, a hand grenade sells for $1 to $2, and an M-16 rifle for $200 to $220. On the United States end of the pipeline, there are a number of high-demand items, but topping the wish-list for the Salvadoran MS are handguns, automobiles and personal computers, none of which are easily found in El Salvador. In fact, demand for handguns is so high that they are often accepted as payment for drug transactions, then either sent back to El Salvador as bartered-wealth or for actual use. The situation is much the same with automobiles, which are stolen in the United States and exported to South America where they are often traded for drugs in deals with cartels. These transactions are so prolific and so vital that an estimated 80 percent of the cars driven in El Salvador were reported as stolen in the United States.
The ramifications of this pipeline of drugs, guns and contraband are far reaching. For the Salvatruchas still in El Salvador, it means access to U.S. dollars, stolen cars, small arms and high-value technical items. For those in the United States, it offers access to an unlimited arsenal at subsidized prices, allowing U.S. Salvatruchas to outgun and overpower nearly any potential adversary, including law-enforcement personnel not fully aware of the arsenal available to or the ferocity of their opposition.
Illegal immigrants in the United States are responsible for most of the violent crime in large cities like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Houston and Austin. However, immigrant advocacy groups have barred police departments and other government agencies from reporting violations of immigration law to federal authorities in those areas, according to Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald in her article, The Illegal Alien Crime Wave, published in the winter 2004 City Journal.
Police report that they routinely see previously deported illegals from gangs such as MS13 back on the streets in the United States. However, unless officers witness such individuals felons by their very presence in the United States committing another illegal act in plain view, they are not allowed to make an arrest.
In New York, a gang of five Latinos four of them illegal abducted and raped a 42- year-old mother of two in Queens. Three of the illegals had been arrested on previous occasions for assault, armed robbery and drug offenses. However, the New York Police Department did not notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service because of sanctuary policies instituted by Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.
Operations and characteristics: As previously discussed, MS13 supplies its arsenal and narcotics stock from El Salvador, but its criminal activities within the United States far exceed the bounds of smuggling and gunrunning. As a criminal element, Mara Salvatrucha is a force to be reckoned with, existing as both a nation-spanning gang and as a strictly local street-thug posse. In fact, there seems to be no national command structure within the United States that would imply cohesiveness as the cliques spread nationwide. That said, national trends do become readily apparent and may well even be coordinated, but again, this does not support a command-and-control hierarchy in any sense.
In Del Ray, a section of Alexandria, Virginia, MS13 is believed to have been involved in the still unsolved murder of Nancy Dunning, 56, wife of the Fairfax County Sheriff, James Dunning, in the family home. Sheriff Dunning has a high profile position as the official responsible for the County Detention Facility that houses both local and federal offenders awaiting trial or deportation. The death of Dunning is attributed by Alexandria police as probably related to an incident in her business career in real estate.
In the Washington metropolitan area, MS13 activity dominates the region. Of some estimated 5,000 gang members in Washington D.C. [particularly Adams Morgan], Maryland [particularly Montgomery County], and Virginia [Fairfax County], the top three gangs Mara Salvatrucha 13, Vatos Locos and Street Thug Criminals (STC), respectively have memberships of some 4,500 (MS), 150 (Vatos Locos) and 100 (STC). It is noted that there are street gangs operated by other ethnic groups such as Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian and Chinese youth gangs supplementing the home-grown criminal gangs. Congress has allocated a mere $2 million for purposes of law-enforcement information gathering on gangs generally.
Recruitment of new members starts as early as elementary school. Targets for potentially new Salvatruchas are usually Hispanic children somehow isolated from the group, either with family problems, social difficulties or a newcomer to the area. Typically, MS plays the role gangs have often taken in the lives of their members and answers some unfulfilled need for attention, acceptance or love. Oftentimes a recruit will be built up, told how great he is and what an asset he would be, in a classic good cop approach. Everything changes in the moment of initiation. Members and ex-members alike have described variations of a crude initiation rite that consists of beating up the new recruit, sometimes for 13 seconds, after which he is accepted as a new member of the gang.
Women are not allowed as members of MS13 either in the United States or elsewhere. They are frequently attached, however, in an arrangement of relationships that seem to range from servitude to accessory. Women provide services for gang members, from carrying weapons to acting as decoys, to providing sex and writing computer programs. Women are also the targets and ultimately the victims of MS13. A common revenue source for MS is a tax on prostitutes operating in MS territory, usually about $50 a week, a sum that does not alienate the women and affords them protection. However, they are encouraged to pay through intimidation and violence. Protection rackets are much the same, and variations of both are common.
In every country in which they operate, MS has had problems of women becoming jealous of one another or one becoming an informant for the police. When discovered, the informant is brutally tortured, killed and dismembered. In Guatamala, MS has developed the tactic of sending letters to the police, accompanied by the head of a 13-or 14 year old girl.
The MS members identify themselves with a number of different tags or tattoos. A number 13 or variation of the two digits 1 and 3, the word suerno [southerner] or sur, an abbreviation of the same word. These terms reference the fact that MS members like to claim their home as Southern California, as Northern California is the territory of rival gangs. Other common tags are M or MS. Many of these will often be worn at once, but it is important to note that there is no single signature that always uniquely identifies an MS13 member. The 13 and sur tattoos are relatively common among Hispanic gangs, including prison gangs both inside and outside of California. A more reliable indicator would be a combination of known symbols and tags. (NOTE - The photographs that appear in this article were not part of the original work.)
As a general rule, Mara Salvatrucha exhibits no fear of law enforcement whatsoever and in the past has not hesitated to kill an officer. MS13 gang members are responsible for the execution of three federal agents and numerous shootings of law-enforcement officers across the country.
The MS members have been known to booby-trap their drug-stash houses with antipersonnel grenades under the assumption that they will be searched by law enforcement. Based on their continued relationship with the FMLN, it is reasonable to assume that there continue to be new members with paramilitary experience who are themselves skilled in demolitions and small arms, and perhaps most importantly in the training and instruction of these weapons to others. It therefore follows that anyone conducting dealings with Mara Salvatrucha 13 should use the utmost caution and assumes the presence of very dangerous situation.
Just as the migration of Salvadoran immigrants does not produce an entire �New San Salvador� overnight, the proliferation of the Salvatruchas, which appears to have accompanied the movement of Salvadorans needs to be remembered in the early stages of dealing with newly reported or emergent cliques. Not every Salvadoran immigrant who calls himself a Salvatrucha is necessarily a member of the MS13. Hence, La Mara, Mara 18, or simply Salvatrucha need not refer specifically to MS13, and in fact both La Mara and Mara 18 are each themselves different gangs entirely. To an observer or officer who is acquainted with the threat presented by Mara 13, hearing �Salvatrucha� from a suspected gang member is a chilling experience.
Conclusions The Mara Salvatruchas 13 are now the problem of the United States. They fight and kill in broad daylight in America�s cities and towns even as they live and die in the seemingly grayest areas of U.S. law. Very often they are illegal immigrants, but even those who are not, because of their age and ethnicity are unlikely to attract much scrutiny until an incident of such magnitude or tragedy takes place to focus public attention on the problem.
Traditionally, the methods available to the United States for use against MS13 are arrest, incarceration and deportation. In the case of deportation back to El Salvador, this can be an effective threat and weapon against the Salvatruchas, as upon the arrival of convicted gangsters in El Salvador, they find themselves the targets of the Sombra Negra [Black Shadow] a rumored vigilante group said to have been operating for some years. The story of the Sombra Negra is a chilling one for potential deportees because the rumors of vigilante justice band are frighteningly � suspiciously � like the stories of the death squads of the 1980s.
It is worth noting that following the end of the 12-year Salvadoran civil war, the insurgent FMLN ' a Cuban-orchestrated cohesion of five Communist groups, which was in turn supplied with arms from Cuba, China and the Soviet Union ' disarmed and became a political party. While the opposition Alianza Republicana Nacional (ARENA) [National Republican Alliance] party has held the presidency since 1989, there are elections scheduled for March 21. FMLN leader Shafik Handal will stand as a candidate. The 72 yearold is the former head of the Salvadoran Communist Party. He has spoken openly about turning El Salvador into a Socialist state, and recently sent Fidel Castro a letter in support of the jailing of 75 peaceful oppositionists in Cuba. His party is an essential part of the MS13 network that continues to send rifles and assorted munitions to the Salvatruchas of Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States.
The gangs are the perfect instrument for the same organized crime rackets that have traditionally operated throughout the Americas. With young, enthusiastic memberships who maintain virtual blood loyalties to the point of brutally punishing any attempts to leave the group, a ready-made force of gunmen, smugglers, thieves, dealers and above all expendables, is made available to the cartels, mafias, and similar organized-crime syndicates of the modern world. Their young soldiers are of the best kind as they are fighting for their own territory, their own turf and for themselves. The overwhelming majority of them will never even know of any employment by outsiders, and in fact the majority of members will never technically be employed.
In May 2003, some 19 years after MS13 emerged, top law-enforcement officials from across the country met to conduct the first session of a new policing organization designed to share information, intelligence and tactics in combating gang violence.
One solution is the Clear Law Enforcement for Alien Removal Act, or CLEAR. The legislation, which has 112 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, would require that state and local governments provide the Department of Homeland Security with information about illegal aliens that police arrest or interrogate in the course of their duties and would end the current federal policy of catching and releasing immigration violators on grounds that there is no place to hold them. One of the outspoken critics of the legislation is Maryland�s Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, who has a reliance on the Hispanic and liberal vote in his county.
Their force of numbers and disproportionate weight of influence through the application of the force of fear imposed by the use of weapons cripples the development of half a dozen countries in Central America, threatens an entire generation of Hispanic youth and could engulf the United States.
The United States has not yet dealt with large numbers of heavily armed streetwise thugs who would prefer to confront authorities with high-powered rifles instead of highpowered lawyers, and who value their own lives so little that they would expend them almost casually for the sake of depriving their enemy, the police of their lives.
Both in Central America and the United States, the question is being asked by the lawenforcement community, �How does a police force seeking to act within the law and respect human rights successfully combat an enemy, consisting of pre-teen to teenage children armed with heavy weapons, all of whom will kill a police officer, without thought,, and who if arrested can only be held in custody for a few hours?�
Finally, it should be considered that if relatively small countries, such as in Central America, having suffered only two decades of civil war, can produce such sociopaths among their youths, there is an even more serious threat to our society. Young people with no moral education, adhering to no social contract as is commonly understood but trained to kill from African, Balkan, Central Asian, Middle Eastern and other areas have come to maturity. Many are the second or even third generations who have grown up knowing only war-like skills.
In short, these are youths who do not have an issue with stealing, killing, beating, and dismembering. They are trained survivors, and care only for efficiency and expediency. If they need something, they take it. If they are disturbed or threatened, they kill. This is all they know and this is in what they excel. Civil societies are incredibly soft, slow moving targets for them, so alien to their experience as to have no bearing on their reality. A 12- year Salvadoran boy may have killed more people than most North Americans have disposed of garden pests. In the next 10 years, over 50 percent of the developing world will be under the age of 15, with no hope of work, and plenty of training in killing. Will the human rights and immigration policies of the United States remain as they are in 2004?
Bush Anti-Gang Plan in Budget, Impact Questioned
State of the Union Address: Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC) talks about the community plan for keeping young men out of gangs, which will be led by First Lady Laura Bush.
Thursday, February 3, 2005
Wed Feb 9,12:29 PM ET
By Alan Elsner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A project to spend $150 million over the next three years to combat youth gangs was a rare new initiative in President Bush (news - web sites)'s budget this week but some experts are skeptical it can have much impact.
In last week's State of the Union address, Bush put his wife Laura in charge of the effort he said would "help organizations keep young people out of gangs, and show young men an ideal of manhood that respects women and rejects violence."
The money would go to community and religious groups that mentor children, provide youth activities and work with former prisoners and drug addicts. At the same time, Bush's proposed 2006 budget, submitted to the U.S. Congress on Monday, slashed spending for several existing anti-poverty programs among more than 150 that would be eliminated or sharply curtailed.
"I'm very skeptical about this latest initiative. At best, it's a partial Band-Aid," said Greg Scott, a sociologist at Chicago's DePaul University who has studied gangs.
Scott said such initiatives have dated back to the 1960s with a record that is "spotty at best."
Michael Kharfen of "Fight Crime, Invest in Kids," a national anti-crime organization, said he also was dubious.
"It looks on the surface that the administration is taking money from existing programs already working on gangs and kids in trouble to fund this new initiative and that won't help communities," he said.
Kharfen said Bush's budget included a $56 million cut for the Juvenile Justice Accountability block grant that funded several such programs.
First lady Laura Bush has already begun traveling around the country to tout the initiative. On Tuesday, she was at George Washington Elementary School in Baltimore.
"Children who are overly aggressive in the first grade are more at risk later in life. Boys especially are a greater risk than girls for violence, learning disabilities and juvenile arrest," she said.
The Department of Justice (news - web sites) estimates gang membership nationwide at around 750,000. Although crime rates have been falling for more than 10 years, gang violence is increasing as a proportion of overall violent crime.
Some gang experts applauded the White House initiative as a promising start.
But Steve Nawojczyk, a gang researcher and educator from North Little Rock, Arkansas, said, "We need much more. We need after school programs, community policing, more parental involvement, more in-school programs, more one-on-one mentoring and more neighborhood involvement."
Jared Lewis of "Know Gangs," a group that organizes education sessions about gangs for law enforcement officials and social service workers, said too much focus in the past has been on identifying gang members and sending them to prison. Ninety percent then return to their communities and many resume their activities. Some 650,000 will be released from prison this year.
"We've seen a tremendous amount of money invested in locking up gang members but very little for rehabilitation and follow up care," Lewis said. "Any sort of resources from the government is a benefit but we see to see much more money going into that."
No street cred
EVIDENTLY every State of the Union speech must have a jarring, incongruous moment that comes out of nowhere. Last year's was President Bush calling for steroids testing in Major League Baseball - not a bad idea but totally out of, well, left field.
This year's came when the President announced that his wife, Laura Bush, would lead a national effort to reduce gang activity in urban America.
The First Lady smiled sweetly, acknowledged the applause of official Washington, and accepted the first great charge of her husband's administration - stewardship of a $150 million, three-year program to assist at-risk youth between 8 and 17.
If some thought that Hillary Clinton's assignment to tackle health-care reform during President Clinton's first term was a stretch, the prospect of Laura Bush, the soft-spoken librarian from Crawford, Texas, lecturing Crips and Bloods about the evils of gangs is a Saturday Night Live skit waiting to happen.
Without a doubt, the First Lady radiates empathy and concern for the disadvantaged. Among all of her husband's advisers, she is the one whom we most easily can imagine relating to society's outcasts in a non-condescending way.
But as nice a woman as she must be, Mrs. Bush isn't our first choice for heading up a federal anti-gang initiative. The government's gang czar should be someone with street credibility and a whole lot of law enforcement experience. For all of her good qualities, Mrs. Bush has neither.
Street gangs and the pathologies that create them are a complex phenomenon in urban and suburban America. Anyone who takes them on needs to be more than a good role model.
Niceness is no substitute for a familiarity with the conditions that drive young people into violent gangs. An initiative without a clear vision of how to deal with the problem is doomed to operate on only a symbolic level. The President obviously loves his wife, but he didn't do her any favors by putting her in charge of such an important effort. What's next - naming Barbara and Jenna Bush to run the Department of Education?
A burgeoning East Boston-based street gang made up of alleged rapists and machete-wielding robbers has been linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network, prompting Boston police to ``turn up the heat'' on its members, the Herald has learned.
MS-13, which stands for La Mara Salvatrucha, is an extremely violent organization with roots in El Salvador, and boasts more than 100 ``hardcore members'' in East Boston who are suspected of brutal machete attacks, rapes and home invasions. There are hundreds more MS-13 gangsters in towns along the North Shore, said Boston police Sgt. Detective Joseph Fiandaca, who has investigated the gang since it began tagging buildings in Maverick Square in 1995.
In recent months, intelligence officials in Washington have warned national law enforcement agencies that al-Qaeda terrorists have been spotted with members of MS-13 in El Salvador, prompting concerns the gang may be smuggling Islamic fundamentalist terrorists into the country. Law enforcement officials have long believed that MS-13 controls alien smuggling routes along Mexico. The warning is being taken seriously in East Boston, where Raed Hijazi, an al-Qaeda operative charged with training the suicide bombers in the attack on the USS Cole, lived and worked, prosecutors have charged.
Also, the commercial jets that hurtled into the World Trade Center towers in New York City were hijacked from Logan International Airport.
``The terrorist aspect, especially when you think in terms of 9/11 and how intent these terrorists are, will turn the heat up on our efforts with MS-13,'' Fiandaca said. MS-13 members congregate near the Maverick Square train station sporting white and blue bandannas, their skin inked with spider webs and ``laugh now, cry later'' clown faces.
``MS-13 is the most dangerous gang in the area,'' Fiandaca said. ``They are big. They are mobile. Now they have a terrorist connection.''
The theory that Salvadoran criminals manage to smuggle people over the border was bolstered this month when two Boston men described as MS-13 leaders were spotted on the North Shore days before Christmas - a year after they were deported by Boston Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators for gang-related crimes.
One of the two men, Elmer ``Tiger'' Tejada, 24, who had been deported after being convicted of a slew of crimes, including attempted murder charges for hurling a machete at Chelsea cops, was busted in Lynn on New Year's Day. Tejada is described as ``an original MS-13 member'' from East Boston, sources said.
A manhunt has been launched for the second fugitive, who is in the country illegally, Boston police said.
The growing number of MS-13 members, and the degree of violence the gang engages in, prompted investigators from 14 local and national agencies to form the North Shore Gang Intelligence task force in 2000, Fiandaca said.
Among the most notorious local crimes attributed to MS-13 was the gang rape of two deaf girls, one 14, the other 17, in a Somerville park in 2002. Three MS-13 gang members were charged in the brutal rapes, during which one victim was knocked from her wheelchair before the assault.
Prison Gangs - Sgt. Bill Valentine (Ret)
Al-Qaeda and Prison InmatesMARA SALVATRUCHA-MS 13
President George Bush glossed over the issue of immigration during his State of the Nation speech Wednesday night, barely touching on the subject. Yet weeks prior to giving the speech, he had, on occasion, floated trial balloons suggesting we pass legislation granting legal status to millions of illegal aliens here who have blatantly broken our laws in sneaking into this country, most of whom are from Mexico. "It's a compassionate way to treat people who come to our country," he said during a news conference in January, "It recognizes the reality of the world in which we live There are some people...there are some jobs in America that Americans won't do and others are willing to do."
It seems he is not giving much thought to the impact on our schools, hospitals, the job market, law enforcement and prisons, these aliens are creating. He will though, because organized opposition from the House Republicans is gaining momentum. With the new Congress commencing, key Republicans indicate they will push legislation to tighten the Mexican border near San Diego and to introduce legislation prohibiting states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
When we first invaded Iraq, in a news conference he said of other countries, "You are either for us or against us." Oil rich Mexico refused to help us, so by his reasoning, that country was against us. Yet now, he continues to pander to Vicente Fox. Why?
What drives President Bush? Is he poll-driven like Bill Clinton? Possibly, but now in his second term he is unable to run for President again, and it seems he will spend much of his current term dealing with Iraq. And across the border, Iran looming on the horizon, may become an even bigger headache. Iran, a cauldron of terrorism and hate, will surely succeed in developing nuclear weapons while he is still in office.
President Bush should reflect back to March, 2001, when he granted "temporary protected status" to as many as 300,000 illegal immigrants from El Salvador, many of whom were hardened veterans of that country's civil war, a war that raged for 12 years, and ended in1992. That bloody war pitted government troops against leftists guerillas, and incurred in excess of 100,000 casualties, along with sending hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing northward. A large percentage of these refugees that had fought in their homeland, and who had been trained by U.S. Army advisers in El Salvador on the finer aspects of explosives, weaponry, infiltration and warfare, made it into the U.S. And in so doing, became the nucleus of a new formidable street gang, now pervasive throughout the United States.
With the arrival of the first wave of these people in Los Angeles, the area of Rampart Division became the first stop. At that time, Rampart was the home base of the violent Eighteenth Street gang. The newcomers who had been part of the bloody civil war in their homeland, were quick to seize upon the opportunities afforded them in their new home. After all, doesn't everyone come here to make a better life? We keep hearing that from the politicians.
Many of the Salvadorans jumped in with the Eighteenth Street gang, but the majority of them decided to form their own street gang limiting membership to Salvadorans only. Thus, Mara Salvatrucha was born. The name "Mara Salvatrucha-13," breaks down into: "Mara" which is equivalent to "barrio, or neighborhood as used by U.S. Hispanic gangs, "Salva" refers to El Salvador, and "trucha" translates into "beware of." The "13," only denotes their preference in claiming southern Hispanic, as opposed to 14, which denotes northern Hispanic allegiance.
"Beware of the Salvadorans." Many people, including the police were soon to realize this.
The MS-13 took to street crime like a duck to water. Drugs, weapons, robbery and burglary, witness intimidation, extortion, car jackings, became commonplace with them, as did rape, arson, murder-for-hire, and bloody gang fighting for control of turf.
The MS-13 soon took on their own identity, and earned a reputation from the other street gangs as being a particularly unmerciful gang which would retaliate violently when challenged. After establishing themselves in L.A., they set up beach heads in other large cities, the first being Washington D.C., followed by New York City. Today, many of our major cities has an MS-13 chapter.
In L.A., the MS-13 was cutting into the profits of long established Hispanic gangs. Gang meetings were held to decide how best to deal with the Salvadorans. A showdown was inevitable, and it happened on a balmy afternoon in a park frequented by MS-13 members and family who were having a picnic and drinking beer. Many of the other picnickers were Mexican American gang members. The Salvadorans decided to deride the other gang members by burning a Mexican flag they picked up.
The Maravilla, a pervasive L.A. based street gang that dates back to the 1920s, and which has about a dozen chapters were among those in attendance. Fights broke out, and Maravilla declared war on MS-13, as did the burgeoning Eighteenth Street gang. The long established Mexican Mafia got into the fray and subsequently demanded a 10% tax from MS-13 on all profits they gained from street crime. The Salvadorans told La eMe to go to hell. For the next year, the MS-13 fought a defensive battle against the others, but did not back down.
Their resolve so impressed La eMe, that a truce was called. Secret meetings were held between the two gangs. It was agreed that the Salvadorans would sell drugs and weapons for La eMe, and provide muscle and tax collectors. But the Maravilla, who would not call off the war, and who resented La eMe's pact with MS-13, also refused to pay taxes. This became contentious with La eMe, who put out the green light on Maravilla. Today, in Los Angeles where Maravilla is entrenched, graffiti is splashed around proclaiming Maravilla is "TAX FREE."
The MS-13 and Maravilla continued to wage war. Fighting between the two groups broke out in other cities where they had a presence, including Reno. In Reno, on August 13, 1995, Juan Mauricio Castillo, A.K.A. "Little Boy," age 15, who was identified as an MS-13 gang member, fired a .380 pistol in the direction of rival Maravilla gang members who had gathered at Horseman's Park to play soccer. Tragically, his aim was poor and the rounds went past them and struck a 12 year old girl in the head killing her.
At trial, Little Boy who had turned 16, was hammered with two life terms running wild. As of this writing he is confined at Ely state prison, resting well we hope.
THE AL-QAEDA CONNECTION
Across the nation, in Boston, the MS-13 are reported to have over 100 hard-core members who are active in violent street crime and home invasions. On these sorties it is reported they carry razor sharp machetes along with firearms. In 2002, in a Somerville park, three of the Salvadoran gang members were charged with the bloody rape of two local deaf girls, ages 14, and 17. One of the girls was kicked out of her wheel chair prior to the assault.
More ominous, are reports that link MS-13 with al-Qaeda terrorist organizations. Intelligence sources in Washington have alerted Boston area authorities that al-Qaeda terrorists under surveillance in El Salvador have been seen meeting with local Mara Salvatrucha leadership in that country. This gives rise to the suspicion that the Salvadorans may be smuggling Islamic fundamentalist terrorists into the U.S. They have the established alien smuggling routes through Mexico, and the ability to do so.
Boston police have reported that two MS-13 leaders whom they deported back to El Salvador a year ago, have again surfaced in Boston, where they were spotted recently on the North Shore. One of the men, Elmer "Tiger" Tejada, was initially deported after a crime spree which included charges of attempted murder of a police officer when he hurled a machete at Chelsea police.
The Boston police continue to track this al-Qaeda connection. Raed Hijazi, an American born in the Bay area, and a one time student at Sacramento City College, is alleged to have ties with al-Qaeda. Hijazi at one time drove a cab in Boston and is alleged to have sent money he earned to a terrorist cell in the Middle East. After he left the U.S. he was charged with training the suicide bombers that attacked the USS Cole.
He was next heard of in October, 2000, when Syrian authorities arrested him in Damascus and turned him over to the Jordanians. Jordan had charged him with conspiracy to commit mass murder by placing bombs in the Radisson Hotel in downtown Amman that was expected to be full of American tourists during the Millennium celebrations in 1999. In addition, he was charged with conspiracy to murder U.S. and Israeli citizens at two Christian Holy sites, and two border crossings into Israel. At trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. As of yet, this sentence has not been carried out.
The FBI has not revealed any connection between MS-13 and the al-Qaeda to the public. However many other reports do. In December of last year, an MS-13 gang member and a Muslim from Bangladesh were arrested crossing the Rio Grande together. This prompted Congressman Solomon Ortiz, (D-TX) co-chairman of the House border caucus, to state publicly that meetings between the two groups have taken place, and that the Mara Salvatrucha have a network for illegal entry into this country that stretches all the way from El Salvador to the U.S. border, and that they may already be smuggling terrorists into our country.
The Boston authorities who are tracking this connection, want to remind us all that the jets that were hijacked and became suicide bombers resulting in a loss of life of 3,000 innocent persons, were boarded by the terrorists at Logan International Airport, Boston.
Today, MS-13 are recruiting nationwide, and are not now limiting their membership to Salvadorans only. Other Hispanics are welcome if they can measure up to the ruthlessness of the Salvadorans. Identification of the Mara Salvatrucha gang members can be made by their tattoos. Though most of them carry generic gang tattoos, i.e., happy/sad faces; spider webs and the like, the tattoo that connects them to the gang is the "M S 13." When confronted, the gang member may try to say these initials stand for a girl friend, "Maria Sanchez," for instance, but only uninformed law enforcement personnel would accept this.
Al Qaeda seeks tie to local gangs
This Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles flier shows Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a Saudi national who may be plotting terrorist attacks as part of al-Qaida.
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A top al Qaeda lieutenant has met with leaders of a violent Salvadoran criminal gang with roots in Mexico and the United States - including a stronghold in the Washington area - in an effort by the terrorist network to seek help infiltrating the U.S.-Mexico border, law enforcement authorities said. Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a key al Qaeda cell leader for whom the U.S. government has offered a $5 million reward, was spotted in July in Honduras meeting with leaders of El Salvador's notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang, which immigration officials said has smuggled hundreds of Central and South Americans - mostly gang members - into the United States. Although they are actively involved in alien, drug and weapons smuggling, Mara Salvatrucha members in America also have been tied to numerous killings, robberies, burglaries, carjackings, extortions, rapes and aggravated assaults - including at least seven killings in Virginia and a machete attack on a 16-year-old in Alexandria that severely mutilated his hands. The Salvadoran gang, known to law enforcement authorities as MS-13 because many members identify themselves with tattoos of the number 13, is thought to have established a major smuggling center in Matamoros, Mexico, just south of Brownsville, Texas, from where it has arranged to bring illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico into the United States. Authorities said al Qaeda terrorists hope to take advantage of a lack of detention space within the Department of Homeland Security that has forced immigration officials to release non-Mexican illegal aliens back into the United States, rather than return them to their home countries. Less than 15 percent of those released appear for immigration hearings. Nearly 60,000 illegal aliens designated as other-than-Mexican, or OTMs, were detained last year along the U.S.-Mexico border. El Shukrijumah, born in Saudi Arabia but thought to be a Yemen national, was spotted in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in July, having crossed the border illegally from Nicaragua after a stay in Panama. U.S. authorities said al Qaeda operatives have been in Tegucigalpa planning attacks against British, Spanish and U.S. embassies. Known to carry passports from Saudi Arabia, Trinidad, Guyana and Canada, El Shukrijumah had sought meetings with the Mara Salvatrucha gang leaders who control alien-smuggling routes through Mexico and into the United States. El Shukrijumah, 29, who authorities said was in Canada last year looking for nuclear material for a so-called "dirty bomb" and reportedly has family members in Guyana, was named in a March 2003 material-witness arrest warrant by federal prosecutors in Northern Virginia, where U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said he is sought in connection with potential terrorist threats against the United States. A former southern Florida resident and pilot thought to have helped plan the September 11 attacks, El Shukrijumah was among seven suspected al Qaeda operatives identified in May by Attorney General John Ashcroft as being involved in plans to strike new targets in the United States. Citing "credible intelligence from multiple sources," Mr. Ashcroft said at the time that El Shukrijumah posed "a clear and present danger to America." In August, an FBI alert described him as "armed and dangerous" and a major threat to homeland security. Earlier this month, Mr. Ashcroft confirmed that U.S. border agents and inspectors had ramped up efforts to find El Shukrijumah amid reports that the al Qaeda leader was thought to be seeking entry routes into the United States along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mr. Ashcroft noted that increased enforcement efforts were under way in the wake of a rise of arrests of border jumpers from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Authorities said Mara Salvatrucha gang members moved into the Los Angeles area in the 1980s and developed a reputation for being organized and extremely violent. The gang since has expanded into the Washington area, including Virginia and Maryland, and into Oregon, Alaska, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Georgia and Florida. More than 3,000 Mara Salvatrucha gang members are thought to be in the Washington area, with a major operation in Northern Virginia. Other gang centers, authorities said, include Montgomery and Prince George's counties and the Hispanic neighborhoods of Washington. Mr. McNulty, whose office has prosecuted Mara Salvatrucha gang members, has described the organization as the "gang of greatest interest" to law enforcement authorities. He said gang members are recruited predominantly from Hispanic communities and typically among juveniles, some as young as 13. Recruits are "jumped" into the gang by being beaten by members while others count to 13, he said. Gang rules, he said, are indoctrinated into new recruits and ruthlessly enforced. Those who cooperate with law enforcement are given the "green light," he said, meaning that the gang had approved their killing. In March, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office filed an injunction against Mara Salvatrucha, charging that the gang's criminal activity constituted a "public nuisance" based on the number of killings, robberies and drug crimes. The injunction requires gang members, under public nuisance statutes, to follow curfew rules and regulations and prohibits them from associating, driving or appearing together in designated areas of the city.
Local Gang With Ties to Al Qaeda?
Local Gang With Ties to Al Qaeda?
Mara Salvatrucha 13 has purported ties Al Qaeda
The thirteen is part of its fear factor. Investigators saying gang members try to commit much of their signature violence on the 13th of the month. They usually mark their territory with blue spray paint. But local officers and federal agents say the gang goes far beyond graffiti.
They are bold, brash, and very dangerous. Beatings are used as rituals to see if the kid getting pummeled is tough enough to be a member of Mara Salvatrucha. They traffic drugs, guns, illegal aliens and they protect their industry with the power of violence. The crime scenes they leave behind are said to be worst than most.
A Bristol County House of Corrections inmate was a soldier in the gangs. The weapon of choice in several cases is the machete. At one crime scene, a victim was missing three fingers.
In rapes, robberies, they killed three federal agents.
One local concern is recruitment within the prison. He would only shake his head about whether that's going on here where he was put for stabbing someone bad enough to leave them in a wheelchair.
With evidence MS 13 is growing and with four known members in his jail the sheriff says his officers focus on pulling the gangs roots before they grow.
The inmate tells officials he wants out of the gang that he believes they set him up and then deserted him. But he implies getting out alive may be next to impossible.
The sheriff says the gang's violent nature and ability to smuggle guns is attracting an alliance with al Qaeda. A Texas congressman criticized the feds for not doing enough. A FBI spokesman says a clear link between the gang and the terrorists is not established.
Hub 'should be worried': U.S. rep: MS-13 gang is true terror threat
By Michele McPhee
Friday, January 7, 2005
A Texas congressman said MS-13 gang members and Middle Eastern aliens are using the border in his district to sneak into the country - and Boston should be worried.
U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz (D-Texas), co-chairman of the House Border Caucus, told the Herald he is ``very concerned'' about al-Qaeda's link to Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a gang he described as ``extremely vicious.''
The Herald reported this week that a chapter of MS-13 has taken control of a swath of East Boston, prompting Boston police to create a task force to take down the violent, drug-dealing thugs.
Last month, a Muslim man from Bangledesh, Fakhrul Islam, was arrested alongside a reputed MS-13 gang member and 11 others after the group waded across the Rio Grande into Brownsville, Texas.
The alleged MS-13 member, Francky Sanchez-Solorzano, 21, was arrested and deported back to his native Honduras within days of the Dec. 4 bust, Ortiz said. Islam's status in the country remained unclear.
Attorney General John Ashcroft has publicly said a high-ranking al-Qaeda leader, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, has offered top dollar to infiltrate the United States via the Mexican border.
``Boston should be worried,'' said Ortiz's spokeswoman, Cathy Travis. ``These terrorists and gang members are getting on a bus here in Texas and heading to the East Coast.''
FBI officials steadfastly deny any connection between MS-13 - a brutal, international criminal organization that has thousands of members across the country - and the terrorist al-Qaeda network.
``The FBI has not established a link between MS-13 and al-Qaeda,'' said Joe Parris, supervisory special agent in the FBI national press office. ``There is no link established.''
But Ortiz said the Bush administration is ``in denial'' and should tell the American people the truth.
``It's established that Mara Salvatrucha and al-Qaeda have had meetings. Middle Eastern people are willing to pay millions to get into this country,'' Ortiz said yesterday.
Two MS-13 members have been arrested by local cops this week - including a criminal who had been deported by the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, but snuck back into the country.
Elmer ``Tiger'' Tejada, 24, was arrested New Year's Day in Lynn - a year after he was deported as a criminal. Another gang member who had been deported remains at large.
Yesterday, a member of the East Boston Loco Salvadorans, a sect of MS-13 that congregates in Maverick Square, was arraigned on fugitive from justice charges stemming from the 2002 killing of a Washington, D.C., man.
Melquis Alvarez-Garcia, 21, wearing the gang's trademark blue and white colors in the form of a Yankees pinstripe baseball jersey, is accused of stabbing his alleged victim through the heart on April 6, 2002, prosecutors said.
Unholy Border Alliance
By Erick Stakelbeck
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 3, 2005
The new intelligence reform bill signed into law by President Bush on December 17 may ultimately end up being remembered more for the provisions it didn't contain rather than those it did.
After much heated debate, House and Senate negotiators ultimately threw out proposed provisions to the bill that would have tightened immigration laws. Although House Speaker Dennis Hastert has promised to bring drivers' license standards, asylum procedures and other border security provisions back to the House floor by early 2005, in the meantime, the very real danger that Islamist terrorists will infiltrate America's porous southern border persists.
Roughly 60,000 illegal immigrants designated as 'other-than-Mexican,' or OTMs, were detained last year along the U.S.-Mexico border, including a sizable number from Arab and Muslim countries. And if recent reports are any indication, they may be getting some troubling new help in their efforts to enter the United States.
In a December 4 incident that received scant media attention, a Bangladeshi Muslim man named Fakhrul Islam was among a group of 13 illegal aliens arrested near Brownsville, Texas, just across the border from Mexico. Border Patrol agents have said that one of the men detained along with Islam was a member of Mara Salvatrucha, a violent Salvadoran criminal gang with more than 300,000 members across Central and North America, including powerful enterprises in several major U.S. cities.
Mara Salvatrucha, also commonly known as 'MS-13' due to its members' proclivity for sporting tattoos of the number 13, is involved in a smorgasbord of illegal activity, including the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people across the Mexican border. The gang controls many of the smuggling routes from Mexico into the U.S., a fact that has not escaped Al-Qaeda operatives eager to carry out attacks on American soil.
In July, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda leader and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, was spotted in Honduras meeting with members of MS-13. Attorney General John Ashcroft has said that El-Shukrijumah, who he has described as a 'clear and present danger to America,' is seeking ways to infiltrate the U.S. via the Mexican border, and is willing to pay top dollar in order to do so.
El-Shukrijumah, reportedly last seen in August in northern Mexico knows that the potential killing of innocent American civilians would certainly not deter MS-13 from working with Al-Qaeda: the gang is thought to be responsible for thousands of murders and maimings throughout the Western Hemisphere; and, like Islamist terrorists, decapitations and home-made bombs are part of its grisly arsenal.
With a ruthless, money-driven cabal like MS-13 controlling much of the illegal traffic between the U.S. and Mexico, there's no telling how many Islamist terrorists have already taken advantage. That someone of Middle Eastern descent could blend in with a large group of Mexicans with similarly dark complexions -- thereby escaping closer scrutiny from border patrols -- is all too feasible.
Then again, an October intelligence report supplied to the Department of Homeland Security by Russian security services said that a group of 25 backpack-carrying Chechen terrorists -- all white -- illegally entered Arizona by way of Mexico last summer. Furthermore, in September, Farida Ahmed, a South African Muslim woman, pleaded guilty in a Texas court to illegal entry, lying to a federal agent and using an altered passport. Ahmed had been detained by Border Patrol officers in July as she tried to board a plane for New York out of Texas.
At the time of her arrest, Ahmed was carrying $7,300 in various currencies as well as a fake South African passport that was missing pages. She admitted to entering the U.S. illegally by wading across the Rio Grande, and her travel itinerary showed that on her way to America, she had stopped in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, just as several of the 9/11 hijackers had done.
It was announced last week that Ahmed is due to be deported. But many non-Mexican illegal aliens like Ahmed are invariably released by immigration officials who simply don't have the detention space to hold them. Worse, up to 85 percent of them skip their scheduled immigration hearings, only to disappear into American society.
While entry into the U.S. is their primary goal in establishing a base in Latin America, Islamist terrorists -- well-aware of the allure Marxism once held for many south of the border -- also see the region as a potential breeding ground for Islamic converts due to its poor economic and social conditions and corrupt governments.
For instance, the Shia terrorist group Hezbollah wields a strong presence in the tri-border region, a lawless, crime-ridden area where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay intersect. Both Osama bin Laden and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are also said to have spent time there, during the 1990's.
It was Mohammed who in 2002 encouraged alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla to 'enter the United States by way of Mexico' in order to carry out attacks on U.S. targets, according to Deputy Attorney General James Comey.
Ironically, before converting to Islam and volunteering his services to Al-Qaeda, Padilla belonged to the Chicago chapter of the Latin Kings -- like MS-13, a violent Hispanic criminal gang.
Although U.S. agents were able to collar Padilla before he could carry out a terrorist attack, the U.S. border strategy, as presently construed, may one day soon yield a much less savory result. Come January, lawmakers should take notice.
Erick Stakelbeck is senior writer at the Investigative Project, a Washington, D.C.-based counter-terrorism research institute.
Tuesday, January 4, 2005
COMMENTARY: Homeland insecurity: The year in review
2004 was a good year for terrorists, violent gang members, law-breakers and fraud artists seeking safe haven in America. Let's reminisce:
The rise of MS-13. The savage El Salvador-based gang, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), has now penetrated more than a dozen states. In May, a Fairfax, Va., teenager had his fingers chopped off in an MS-13 machete attack. In November, Washington, D.C.-area police received warning that MS-13 is plotting to ambush and kill them when they respond to service calls. Active in alien, drug and weapons smuggling, MS-13 members in America have been tied to numerous killings, robberies, carjackings, extortions and rapes. The gang has also been linked to efforts to help al Qaeda infiltrate the U.S.-Mexico border.
The path of least resistance. Border Patrol officers and local investigative journalists in the Southwest reported on increasing numbers of Middle Eastern males entering illegally from Mexico. Muslim prayer books and Arabic diaries were discovered on "Terrorist Alley" in southern Arizona. Suspected al Qaeda operative Adnan Shukrijumah, a fugitive Saudi pilot who reportedly met with MS-13 earlier this year, is believed to be in Mexico.
In April, a suspected al Qaeda agent arrested in Queens, N.Y., revealed a scheme to smuggle terrorists across the U.S.-Mexico border. In July, two alert Border Patrol agents apprehended Farida Goolam Mohamed Ahmed at McAllen (Texas) airport. She was carrying an altered South African passport, muddy jeans and dirty shoes. She confessed to having entered the country illegally by crossing the Rio Grande River. Court documents showed that she was on a government watch list and had entered the United States up to 250 times.
Upon news of Ahmed's arrest, intelligence experts reported that suspected terror agents are acquiring passports from South Africa and other non-suspect countries; flying to the al Qaeda-coddling "tri-border area" in South America; learning Spanish; traveling to Mexico; and doing the backstroke into America. Lawmakers in Texas warned that the feds are arresting and then releasing thousands of other suspected terrorists classified as "Other Than Mexicans" because of lack of jail space.
President Bush said "family values don't stop at the Rio Grande." I repeat: Neither do the Islamofascists.
Bungling Washington bureaucrats. In the skies, federal air marshals continue to be hampered by director Thomas Quinn's moronic "professional" dress code (no athletic socks or jeans allowed). Although he no longer oversees transportation security, underperformin' Norman Mineta remains in charge of the Department of Transportation, where he maintains an absolutist opposition to homeland defense profiling. And kowtowing to civil liberties Chicken Littles and Muslim lobbyists, the Bush administration canceled the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System out of fear of privacy and discrimination lawsuits.
In July, the Department of Homeland Security rebuked Border Patrol agents in Southern California for conducting interior enforcement sweeps because they did not bow down to the "sensitivities" of open-borders radicals. In September, DHS Border Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson stated publicly that it's "not realistic" for his own officers to try to do their jobs and deport law-breakers.
Morale among rank-and-file enforcement officers has plummeted.
The botched Bernie Kerik DHS nomination and the refusal of the Bush administration to support common-sense immigration enforcement and secure identity measures in the "intelligence reform" bill (which ended up containing more non-intelligence than intelligence provisions) didn't help.
Amnesty, shamnesty. The year ended as it began, with President Bush dangling his abominable proposal to grant a mass governmental pardon to millions of illegal alien workers and their employers. First floated in January, the White House also pushed through a Social Security "totalization" program with Mexico, which will dispense billions of dollars to illegal alien workers who used counterfeit Social Security cards and stolen numbers to secure illegal jobs.
Announcement of the Bush plan led to a spike in illegal alien apprehensions at the border during the first three months of 2004 -- 25 percent higher compared with last year. Those are just the ones who got caught. T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told the Washington Times in April: "People were coming up to our agents and saying, 'Where do we sign up for that guest-worker program, or that amnesty?' Word travels like wildfire down there."
And around the world. The word is we're open. Wide open. What a way to ring in the new year.
Feds Probe Al Qaeda Link to Latino Gang
- admin @ 6:55 pm
Federal officials are investigating a violent Central America-based street gang for ties to Middle Eastern terrorism, an alliance that seems unlikely but poses a frightening threat to the United States.
MS-13, also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, has about 15,000 members in the United States in cities from Los Angeles to Boston. Some members have been charged with crimes that include rape, carjacking and drug smuggling.
Al Qaeda Seeks Ties to Local Gangs
U.S. authorities have reported that a top Al Qaedalieutenant, Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, has met withmembers from the Salvadoran gang, Mara Salvatrucha,known as MS-13, in an effort to help the terroristnetwork infiltrate the U.S. border with Mexico. AlQaeda hopes to take advantage of the lack of space atgovernment detention centers, where immigrationofficials have been forced to release non-Mexicanillegal aliens back into the United States instead oftheir home countries. Less than 15 percent of thosereleased appear for immigration hearings.
Place Troops On The Border Now!
By Dave Gibson (10/01/04)
The flood of illegal aliens streaming in from Mexico is placing a tremendous strain upon the American taxpayer. In the southwestern United States, schools have become over-crowded and unfairly burdened with the children of illegals and hospitals have been bankrupted due to illegal women in labor, flooding into emergency rooms.
I could go on and on listing the problems that are a direct result of our failure to protect the U.S.-Mexican border. However, there are much more serious problems than un-documented workers and bricks of marijuana coming from our neighbor to the south...violence and terrorism.
Recently, al Qaeda lieutenant Adnan El Shukrijumah was seen in Honduras, meeting with leaders of a notorious Latin American gang known as Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13. The United States has placed a $5 million bounty upon the head of El Shukrijumah.
MS-13 which is notorious for smuggling illegal aliens, drugs, and weapons into the U.S., operates a large smuggling center in Matamoros, Mexico. From this center, they smuggle gang members from Central and South America into the U.S. over the Mexican border. It is becoming increasingly apparent that this gang has already began helping Muslim terrorists enter this country.
MS-13 also engages in the typical gang crimes such as robberies, rapes, killings, carjackings, etc. The Latin American gang earned an extremely violent reputation in Los Angeles during the 1980's. They now operate in at least 14 states and the District of Columbia. According to local law enforcement officials, there are more than 3,000 MS-13 members operating in the Washington D.C. area. Just outside D.C., a 16 year old Alexandria boy was attacked by MS-13 members who used a machete to mutilate the boy's hands.
Last year, 60,000 non-Mexican illegals were captured attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico.
Since 2000, more than 4,000 people from the countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border. Can you imagine how many we failed to capture?
The threat of violent gang members and terrorists entering this nation from our porous, unprotected border with Mexico is real. Though our leaders (including President Bush) continue to ignore this threat, we cannot. We must implore our President to place National Guardsmen on the border and put an end to this absurdity.
If we do not begin to take seriously this threat from Mexico...we can expect a future for our children which is filled with violence and fear. We can expect many more days such as September 11, 2001!
After completing two years at Tidewater Community College, Dave Gibson became a Virginia Beach Deputy Sheriff. He has since left the department and now owns a small business in the city of Chesapeake, Virginia. An active volunteer in many animal organizations, he has worked at the Virginia Zoo, the Norfolk SPCA, and currently works for the K-9 New Life Center based in Virginia Beach.
Central American gang may have presence in EP
The Mara Salvatrucha -- a large, ruthless Central American street gang linked to a recent bus massacre in Honduras whose members have been popping up along the Texas-Mexico border -- may be making its way to El Paso. The Maras, which claim to have 100,000 members in Honduras alone, stretch from impoverished gang-controlled neighborhoods in El Salvador to suburban Washington, D.C. El Paso police had their first confirmed encounter with the Mara Salvatrucha on Aug. 15, when officers responding to an assault call in a Downtown parking lot discovered a tattooed member of the gang armed with a machete.
Terrorists to the East, Terrorists to the West
By Marty Lich
Feb 1, 2005, 08:08
Where do you all fit in the Big East-West Picture?
I read the following in the Denver Post today: DMV flawed, ex-clerk alleges Accused worker: Fraud rampant: 'A woman accused of illegally selling Colorado driver's licenses'' I immediately wrote and asked the two reporters, Michael Riley (email@example.com ) and Alicia Caldwell (firstname.lastname@example.org ):
�Do the porous borders concern you all? Yet?' The Denver post is inherently pro-illegal orientated, so I hope I receive a reply.
Now I will ask the rest of you, do the porous borders concern you? Yet?
We are quite aware they are of little concern to our president. He seems to operate under the kind-hearted and false belief that we can secure all identities and therefore secure America simply by legalizing all illegal aliens who are breaking the laws of America right now. Why would al- Qaida cells reveal their true identities to us? Why would we believe they would? Why would our president think any of us would accept this? Why isn't he worried about us? Concerned for the innocent families living in the United States? He should be.
I worry, with reason. Do you worry, even without a reason? Here are some reasons for you to begin worrying. All articles linked below are from this past spring to date. I have more, many many more, articles and data archived. Including the employees working at both Denver International Airport and the Air Force Academy, spring of 2003, who were issued security passes. One was a pilot. All were identified illegal aliens using stolen or fake documents. Most fled following the busts and prior to the scheduled immigration hearings. They are somewhere in the United States of America, just not using security badges and flying planes in Colorado. At least I don't think they are. Here in Colorado that is.
Please read on. Education is the key to success. And conversely as Ye Olde Editor (Ken Anderson) said today, 'It's awfully hard to breathe when your head is stuck in the sand'
And then ask yourself, where are you? Educated and ready to speak up? Or suffocating under ignorance?
Non-Mexican illegal aliens a U.S. security headache
By Alan Elsner
9:12 a.m. February 4, 2005
WASHINGTON - Tens of thousands of people from countries other than Mexico illegally crossed the Mexican border into the United States last year, creating a growing security headache for U.S. authorities.
Mexicans caught by U.S. border patrols trying to enter the country illegally are usually immediately returned to their native land.
But Mexico accepts only Mexicans, so any non-Mexicans are checked against government watch lists as a potential security or criminal threat. If their names do not appear, many are released on their own recognizance and told to appear at a deportation hearing often months in the future. The majority fail to show up for the hearing and are never seen again.
"The fear is of al Qaeda people sneaking across the Mexican border because it's become so much harder for them to get into the country by other means," said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, referring to the organization that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. He noted that it took only 19 people to hijack the planes which destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and killed almost 3,000 people.
U.S. authorities have since vastly tightened visa scrutiny and airport checks, especially for people seeking to enter the United States from the Middle East.
But law enforcement agents across the southwest border are alarmed that the United States is releasing thousands of non-Mexicans, said Rep. Solomon Ortiz, a Texas Democrat.
"Those released include individuals from nations the U.S. defines as state sponsors of potential terrorism or from those nations who have produced a large number of al Qaeda militants," he said. Experts believe that about 7,000 people who were not from Central America or Mexico were detained on the U.S.-Mexican border last year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, declined to give a breakdown of where all detainees were from.
Ortiz and Texas Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla wrote to President Bush and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge last August protesting what they termed a "catch and release" policy but received no response.
NOT JUST FROM LATIN AMERICA
U.S. officials last week intercepted a small plane and arrested four illegal Chinese immigrants it was transporting from the Texas-Mexico border to San Antonio.
Even those from Central American countries could pose a potential threat, according to Louis Sadler, an expert on border security with New Mexico State University.
"Some of these nations like Honduras have considerable Middle Eastern communities," he said.
Gangs and drug cartels have deeply involved in smuggling aliens across the border and might be willing to smuggle potential terrorists if the price was right, Sadler said.
Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that anyone caught entering the country who posed a safety or national security threat was detained pending deportation.
As for others who did not show up in criminal or security data bases, he said: "If there is not enough bed space in detention centers, they may be issued a notice to appear in court on a specified day. People from different geographical regions of the world are not treated differently."
In The Press -- Border Control
December 13, 2004
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan
Q. Scott, page one of this morning's Washington Times quotes the leader of the Draft Hillary for President organization as saying, "Bush has done everything he can to leave the doors wide open for illegal immigration. Hillary is the only one taking a position on immigration." And in Hillary's own words, "I do not think we have protected our borders." And my first question: What is the President's response to this rather serious charge?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let me just talk about our record and what we're pursuing when it comes to enforcing our borders and strengthening our immigration laws. We have made significant progress to strengthen our immigration laws and improve border security. There is important legislation that was just passed, and the President looks forward to signing it this Friday. It takes a number of steps to build upon that record we have pursued.
We are a society of immigrants, and the President believes we should be a welcoming society. But we also need to make sure the people who are coming into this country are coming here for the right reasons, and that they're coming here legally, through the immigration process we have in place. And he believes we need to continue to build upon the steps we've already taken.
Q. Syndicated columnist Phyllis Schafly reports that ... 4,000 illegal aliens cross the border into Arizona every day. There are reports that 800,000 Californians have left the state, which has to spend $10 billion a year on schooling, health and incarceration of illegal aliens. And my question: Why doesn't the President seal our borders with troops and electronic equipment now, instead of waiting?
MR. McCLELLAN: There are a lot of innovative approaches that states have taken to address some of these issues. I know, speaking from the Texas perspective, that the President worked on these issues when he was governor. And there were some innovative ways to try to address some of these issues. But we're also working closely with our neighbors to the south, and working to expand trade opportunities so that we can improve the quality of life for those who are simply coming to the United States seeking a better way of life. And so they'll be less inclined to want to come to the United States, or they'll be more inclined to return home to support their families. A lot of these people are coming here simply to support their families.
What It Will Take To Terror-Proof Border?
By Kris Axtman and Peter Grier, The Christian Science Monitor, Dateline Houston, December 10, 2004
This front page report discusses the just-passed intelligence bill, which calls for an additional 2,000 Border Patrol agents and 800 immigration and customs agents every year for the next five years.
The bill also calls for tests of advanced sensors, videos and unmanned aircraft surveillance along the U.S.-Canada border and mandates closer surveillance of the U.S.-Mexico border with unmanned aerial vehicles. It strengthens visa application requirements, and requires states to use a common electronic format for the strip that stores data on driver's licenses.
According to this article, 1.2 million illegal immigrants were caught attempting to cross U.S. borders in 2003 -- an estimated 33 percent of total crossings.
December 9, 2004
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan
Excerpts of remarks concerning immigration laws/driver's licenses
Q. Senator Robert Byrd said yesterday, "We cannot expect intelligence reform without closing these gaps in illegal immigration," while The Washington Times editorial today said, "Three years after September 11th and still our immigration system is in tatters." And my first question: How many illegals are in the U.S. and how many are arriving in this country every day in the Bush administration's estimate?
MR. McCLELLAN: You can check with the immigration people on the latest statistics, but I think there have been a number of estimates around the 8 million range of people. But the President, what he is working to do is to strengthen our border security and to strengthen our controls along the border to prevent people who should not be entering the country, like terrorists or criminals, from coming into the country, while also making sure that we remain a welcoming society. We are a nation of immigrants, and the President believes in those core principles that we should remain a welcoming society, but we also need to take steps to strengthen our border enforcement.
And this legislation the President will be signing into law takes a number of steps to do that, by increasing the number of border control agents, increasing the number of agents in the immigration and Custom services over the next five years by a certain amount on each of those. And there's more that we can do, and the President talked about how he looked forward to continuing to work with Congress.
The President has also put forward a plan based on some specific principles for moving forward on a temporary worker program that would address some of the economic need in this country, while also addressing the issue of people coming to this country from Mexico and other countries to our south who are seeking a better way of life. Ultimately, what we need to do is continue to expand trade opportunities so that we can raise the standard of living in other countries so that people will be less inclined to want to come here to seek a better way of life. Many of these people are just coming to the United States to seek a better way of life....
Q. All right, turning back to immigration. The question, there seems to be kind of a disconnect between the administration and Chairman Sensenbrenner. At his press conference yesterday, he said that he's in agreement with the White House on asylum, but there are disagreements, or he doesn't know the administration's position on the driver's license issue for illegal immigrants, or extending the fence along the border. Do you think you can clear up those two points that Chairman Sensenbrenner raised?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what the President has said, he looks forward to talking with members early next year about some of the other ideas. Chairman Sensenbrenner certainly had some ideas. We spelled out some of our views on those issues in letters that we sent to members of Congress -- one this week and one back in October, if I remember correctly. And so the President looks forward to talking with people about those issues.
In terms of driver's license, the President stated that we need to consult closely with states about the standards that we're talking about setting. So that's his view there.
December 8, 2004
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan
Press Briefing Washington, D.C.
Excerpts of remarks concerning immigration laws/driver's licenses
Q. Scott, on the intelligence bill, some of the things that didn't make it are the key issues regarding immigration that Mr. Sensenbrenner and others have raised, including driver's licenses for immigrants. The President has indicated he will cooperate with an effort to address those issues early on next year. Does the White House have a position at this point on driver's licenses? Are there other issues in the immigration area that it thinks need to be addressed?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, the President believes our immigration laws do need to be strengthened. And this legislation takes several steps towards that goal. I would point out that this legislation increases the Border Patrol agents by 2,000 in each of the next five fiscal years. It increases the Immigration and Customs enforcement agents by 800 in each of the coming fiscal years. And it increases criminal penalties for illegal -- for smuggling and harboring of illegal immigrants. And it has some other measures in there that help us strengthen our immigration laws.
The President did previously, in a letter to Congress, express his views on some of those other issues, and you mentioned one. I mean, he talked about how he -- and he talked about in his most recent letter how he looked forward to talking with Congress early next year to look at ways that we can improve our asylum laws, as well as improve standards for issuing driver's licenses, and he felt that that is an issue that needs to be discussed closely with the states as we move forward....
Arizona Apprehensions Higher Than Other Border States Combined
Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, November 26, 2004
The U.S. Border Patrol released statistics that show more illegal immigrants were apprehended in Arizona during the fiscal year than in California, New Mexico and Texas combined.
Since 1994, illegal immigrant apprehensions in Arizona have jumped from 16 percent to 52 percent.
Tougher border controls in other states bordering Mexico have resulted in declining numbers of apprehensions, signifying, some believe, that fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally. According to this article: "While the Border Patrol says it has taken the same approach in Arizona as in California and Texas, the results have been markedly different."
U.S. Deported Record Number of Criminal, Illegal Aliens in 2004
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release, November 19, 2004
The United States has removed a record number of 157,281 criminal and other illegal aliens from the United States in fiscal year 2004, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) largest investigative arm.
November 9, 2004
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Excerpts from remarks at the inaugural of the 21st Binational Commission
Mexico City, Mexico
The United States is proud to be a nation of immigrants, but too many of those immigrants living and working in our country today have no legal status. Early last year, President Bush proposed a temporary worker program to match willing foreign workers with U.S. employers and to offer legal status to immigrants who contribute to our economy as they work to support their families. But the President remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform as a high priority in his second term, and we will work closely with our Congress to achieve this goal. Together, we can work together to make North America more globally competitive.
How best do we do that? By working cooperatively to improve education so that our citizens can be successful in a 21st century world by improving the infrastructure on both sides of the border to meet the needs of people and commerce while making it easier to start new businesses in both of our countries. At the same time, we must also be innovative in our efforts to stop those who abuse the openness of our societies along the border, who would use this openness to harm our citizens through trafficking in drugs or trafficking in human beings or by committing acts of terrorism.
November 9, 2004
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Excerpts from an interview with Leonardo Valero of Reforma
Mexico City, Mexico
MR. VALERO: Everyone in Mexico hopes that now in Mr. Bush's second term the immigration reform will be an easy cake. Would it be that easy to get?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it depends on what kind of a cake you're baking.
MR. VALERO: Right. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY POWELL: Some cakes are easier to bake than other cakes. And the President has made it clear in the speech he gave on January 7th that he wants to move forward with the temporary workers program. We have a new Congress that was just elected. They will come in early January. I told Secretary Derbez today that we wanted to take this temporary workers program idea, proposal, and get an assessment with the new Congress as to how hard it would be or how easy it would be, what kind of cake we could get out of this.
It's important for us to go after that which is doable and not go after something that we know it is beyond our reach or we don't have a hot enough oven to bake it in. And so we don't want expectations to be too high, but we do want to make progress. The President has made clear to me, and he has certainly shared his view with President Fox, that we want to see progress on migration. We didn't see the kind of progress we hoped for in his first four years because of 9/11, because of the difficulties we faced in our Congress, to be frank.
But 9/11 is behind us now. We want to move forward. The President has a mandate as a result of the election and he wants to move forward on migration, and we had a good conversation about that today, President Fox and myself and Secretary Derbez, and I and Secretary Creel and Secretary Ridge.
Ridge Outlines Progress in Security Cooperation With Mexico
U.S. Department of Homeland Security press release, November 9, 2004
The United States and Mexico are making progress in efforts to secure their common border and are working together to dismantle terrorist and criminal networks, according to Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge.
Ridge traveled to Mexico to participate in the 21st meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission (BNC) and in a November 9 joint press conference with Mexican Secretary of the Interior Santiago Creel, he outlined progress made in securing the two nations.
U.S. Cites Immigration Reform with Mexico as a Priority
Fact Sheet, United States-Mexico Binational Commission, November 9, 2004
Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge announced November 9 that immigration reform with Mexico will be a high priority during President Bush's second term, according to a U.S. State Department fact sheet.
The two cabinet secretaries stressed the importance of immigration reform at the 21st meeting of the United States-Mexico Binational Commission (BNC) in Mexico City, Mexico.
White House Press Briefing
Excerpts of statements made by White House Spokesman Scott McClellan during a November 9 press briefing
Q: On immigration?
MR. McCLELLAN: ... the President has put forward a temporary worker program that he has had some discussions with members of Congress on, and he will continue to discuss with members of Congress and work to move forward on that initiative. It is a priority where he believes it's something that will help meet our -- an economic need, as well as provide a more humane treatment of those workers who are coming into the United States....
Q: Is the President going to move forward on his immigration plan that he proposed almost at the beginning of the year and didn't go anywhere, the three-year plan of legal work and then extend it for another period?
MR. McCLELLAN: He remains committed to that proposal. It's something we started discussions with members of Congress on previously. And it's something that he intends to work with members on to get moving again in the second term. It's something he believes very strongly in. America has always been a welcoming society, and this is a program that will match willing workers with willing employers. It will promote compassion for workers who right now have no protection, and it will protect the homeland by helping to control our borders better. And it also provides incentives for those temporary workers to eventually return home to their country of origin.
U.S. Hopes to Move Forward on Migration Accord with Mexico
U.S. Department of State transcript of Secretary Colin Powell's press briefing aboard a plane en route to Mexico City, Mexico, November 8, 2004
As President Bush looks to his second term, he hopes to move forward on a migration agreement with Mexico, particularly the temporary workers proposal he announced in January 2004, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell. En route to the 21st meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission in Mexico City, Mexico, Powell outlines the issues he and other members of the U.S. delegation will discuss with their Mexican counterparts.
President George W. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry
FDCH Political Transcripts
Excerpts from a transcript of the third presidential debate
October 13, 2004
The candidates' answers to a question on U.S. immigration policy follow:
SCHIEFFER (Bob Schieffer of CBS News, moderator): Let's go to a new question, Mr. President.
I got more e-mail this week on this question than any other question. And it is about immigration.
I'm told that at least 8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. Some people believe this is a security issue, as you know. Some believe it's an economic issue. Some see it as a human-rights issue.
How do you see it? And what do we need to do about it?
BUSH: I see it as a serious problem. I see it as a security issue, I see it as an economic issue, and I see it as a human-rights issue.
We're increasing the border security of the United States. We've got 1,000 more Border Patrol agents on the southern border.
We're using new equipment. We're using unmanned vehicles to spot people coming across.
And we'll continue to do so over the next four years. It's a subject I'm very familiar with. After all, I was a border governor for a while.
Many people are coming to this country for economic reasons. They're coming here to work. If you can make 50 cents in the heart of Mexico, for example, or make $5 here in America, $5.15, you're going to come here if you're worth your salt, if you want to put food on the table for your families. And that's what's happening.
And so in order to take pressure off the borders, in order to make the borders more secure, I believe there ought to be a temporary worker card that allows a willing worker and a willing employer to mate up, so long as there's not an American willing to do that job, to join up in order to be able to fulfill the employers' needs.
That has the benefit of making sure our employers aren't breaking the law as they try to fill their workforce needs. It makes sure that the people coming across the border are humanely treated, that they're not kept in the shadows of our society, that they're able to go back and forth to see their families. See, the card, it'll have a period of time attached to it.
It also means it takes pressure off the border. If somebody is coming here to work with a card, it means they're not going to have to sneak across the border. It means our border patrol will be more likely to be able to focus on doing their job.
Now, it's very important for our citizens to also know that I don't believe we ought to have amnesty. I don't think we ought to reward illegal behavior. There are plenty of people standing in line to become a citizen. And we ought not to crowd these people ahead of them in line.
If they want to become a citizen, they can stand in line, too.
And here is where my opponent and I differ. In September 2003, he supported amnesty for illegal aliens.
SCHIEFFER: Time's up.
KERRY: ... Now, with respect to immigration reform, the president broke his promise on immigration reform. He said he would reform it. Four years later he is now promising another plan.
Here's what I'll do: Number one, the borders are more leaking today than they were before 9/11. The fact is, we haven't done what we need to do to toughen up our borders, and I will.
Secondly, we need a guest-worker program, but if it's all we have, it's not going to solve the problem.
The second thing we need is to crack down on illegal hiring. It's against the law in the United States to hire people illegally, and we ought to be enforcing that law properly.
And thirdly, we need an earned-legalization program for people who have been here for a long time, stayed out of trouble, got a job, paid their taxes, and their kids are American. We got to start moving them toward full citizenship, out of the shadows.
SCHIEFFER: Do you want to respond, Mr. President?
BUSH: Well, to say that the borders are not as protected as they were prior to September the 11th shows he doesn't know the borders. They're much better protected today than they were when I was the governor of Texas.
We have much more manpower and much more equipment there.
He just doesn't understand how the borders work, evidently, to say that. That is an outrageous claim.
And we'll continue to protect our borders. We're continuing to increase manpower and equipment.
KERRY: Four thousand people a day are coming across the border.
The fact is that we now have people from the Middle East, allegedly, coming across the border.
And we're not doing what we ought to do in terms of the technology. We have iris-identification technology. We have thumbprint, fingerprint technology today. We can know who the people are, that they're really the people they say they are when they cross the border.
We could speed it up. There are huge delays.
The fact is our borders are not as secure as they ought to be, and I'll make them secure.
Al Qaeda Seeks Tie to Local Gangs: Salvadoran Group May Aid Entry to U.S.
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, September 28, 2004
According to this report, al Qaeda may be working with a violent Salvadoran gang to smuggle terrorists into the United States.
Al Qaeda leader Adnan G. El Shukrijumah reportedly met in July in Tegucigalpa, Honduras with leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha (also known as the MS-13, because many members identify themselves with tattoos of the number 13) criminal gang requesting help in infiltrating the U.S.-Mexico border.
Seper writes that the MS-13 has established "a major smuggling center in Matamoros, Mexico, just south of Brownsville, Texas, where it has arranged to bring illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico into the United States." The Mara Salvatrucha gang, Seper writes, is actively involved in alien, drug and weapons smuggling and their members in the United States have been tied to "numerous killings, robberies, burglaries, carjackings, extortions, rapes and aggravated assaults -- including at least seven killings in Virginia and a machete attack on a 16-year-old in Alexandria (Virginia) that severely mutilated his hands."
El Shukrijumah, who was born in Saudi Arabia but is thought to be a Yemen national, is known to carry passports from Saudi Arabia, Trinidad, Guyana and Canada. He is said to have been in Canada last year looking for nuclear material for a so-called "dirty bomb." He was named in a March 2003 material-witness arrest warrant by federal prosecutors in Northern Virginia in connection with potential terrorist threats against the United States.
El Shukrijumah is thought to have been involved in the 9/11 attacks and was among the seven suspected al Qaeda operatives identified in May by Attorney General John Ashcroft as being involved in new plans to attack the United States.
Special Investigation: America's Border
By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, Time Magazine, September 20, 2004
This long, detailed story is featured on the cover of the September 20th edition of Time magazine. According to this article:
-- In a single day, more than 4,000 illegal immigrants walk into the United States along the 375-mile border between Arizona and Mexico.
-- According to Time's estimates, some 3 million illegal immigrants will enter the United States this year.
-- Most of the illegal immigrants entering the United States are Mexicans. But from October 1, 2003 through August 25, 2004, about 55,890 apprehended illegal immigrants were "other than Mexicans" (OTM). The OTMs who were apprehended came from Latin America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Nicaragua and Venezuela), Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Russia, China, Egypt, Iran and Iraq. An estimated 190,000 OTMs entered the United States undetected so far this year.
-- From October 2003 though August 25, 2004, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended nearly 1.1 million illegal immigrants in all its operations around the United States. But for every one illegal immigrant caught, an estimated three get into the country undetected.
-- The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the 1,951-mile southern border with Mexico is now more than 9,900; up from 8,600 in the year 2000.
-- Last year, illegal immigrants sent $13 billion in remittances to their families in Mexico. The money sent back represents the third largest source of revenue in Mexico's economy, after oil and manufacturing.
-- Of the 400,000 illegal immigrants who have been ordered to be deported, 80,000 have criminal records.
The article focuses on the impact illegal immigration has had on the State of Arizona and its citizens. Among the issues:
-- Environment. Illegal immigrants crossing ranches along and near the border "turn the land into a vast latrine," according to the authors, "leaving behind revolting mounds of personal refuse and enough discarded plastic bags to stock a Wal-Mart."
-- Property damage. The refuse left by illegals is often ingested by cattle and horses, which become sick and sometimes die. The illegals cut fences, allowing livestock to escape into Mexican territory. Cattle from Mexico wander into the United States, where they are supposed to be in quarantine for 30 days and tested for disease. However, this seldom happens because there aren't enough cattle inspectors or holding corrals.
-- Health. The small community hospitals are racking up debt from emergency care administered to illegal immigrants whom they are required by law to treat. The illegals frequently suffer from dehydration, auto injuries, tuberculosis, AIDS and hepatitis. One small 14-bed hospital, the Copper Queen in Bisbee, Arizona must deal with some 500 emergency visits each month; its losses this year are estimated to be $450,000.
-- Crime. Smugglers (also known as "coyotes") frequently steal cars to transport their clients. Arizona now ranks first in cars stolen per capita; about 56,000 cars were stolen last year. In addition, the sheer numbers of illegals in some neighborhoods make the people living there feel unsafe.
Mexico Migrant Smugglers Turning to the Sea
By Will Weissert, Associated Press Online, Dateline Mexico City, September 16, 2004
There appears to be an upswing in the number of small boats, including pleasure craft, being used by human smugglers, according to this report.
This year, U.S. authorities in San Diego, which is across the border from Tijuana, have seized 12 boats carrying 48 Mexican and Chinese illegal immigrants; last year the number was three boats and 20 illegal immigrants.
Derek Benner, group supervisor of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's San Diego Marine Task Force, is quoted as saying that most of the boats were "throwaways" valued at some $2,000 to $5,000 each. The small vessels with U.S. registration were steered into crowded beaches and ports in an attempt to blend in with legitimate boaters and fishermen.
Earlier this year, a French-built yacht C'est La Vie was seized near the Los Angeles harbor carrying 50 illegal Mexican immigrants who were picked up at Ensenada.
Although larger U.S. and Mexican ports have tightened security to meet new international anti-terrorism and security requirements, smuggling gangs are adapting by picking up illegal immigrants along empty stretches of coastline.
Rounding Up All Illegals "Not Realistic": Hutchinson Sees Lack of "Will To Uproot" Aliens
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, September 10, 2004
During a luncheon meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Times, Asa Hutchinson, the undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said it is "not realistic" to think that law-enforcement authorities can arrest or deport the estimated 8 to 12 million illegal aliens thought to be living in the United States. "I don't think America has the will," he is quoted as saying.
Seper writes that Hutchinson explained that the goal of his department is to gain operational control of the U.S. border, to include monitoring ports of entry and land areas between.
Remarks by Vice President Richard Cheney Regarding Illegal Immigration
Delivered at a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa
September 7, 2004
Excerpt from a White House transcript
QUESTION: Illegal immigration, border safety and the President's amnesty policy, if the government doesn't come down hard on the people who are employing the illegal immigrants, and what is to prevent them, or what is the disincentive for them coming here?
R. CHENEY: Well, we've tightened up significantly on the borders since 9/11. We've had to. We've significantly beefed up our border security and so forth. But it continues to be a problem. Part of the difficulty that we're faced with, and one of the things that the President talked about with respect to the immigration policy is that we've got so many people coming across illegally -- primarily for economic reasons, that want to come to work in the United States. But we have no idea who is here. We have no idea what they do once they get here. We have no idea how long they're going to stay, and that there was a need to try to regularize this process. And what he has suggested is that we ought to consider the possibility of having what, in effect, would be a guest worker program so we'd know who was coming in, and that once here, then, they'd stay for a specific period of time. And they they'd have to go back home once their period of time was ended. They could not become citizens. But we would have track of who, in fact, was in the country. That's been proposed. Now, it's just an idea, a concept.
It hasn't gone anyplace legislatively at this point. And the problem we're faced with is that we need to find ways going forward to make sure we do, in fact, have knowledge of who is in the country and whether or not they've stayed, and how long they've stayed and what they're doing while they're here. And at present that's a very hard thing to do because of the enormous flow of people we've got back and forth. We've improved our system with respect to those that come in legally by visas and so forth. But we still don't have as good a grip as we need on all of those who come into the United States illegally, stay for a period of time, and then go back home.
And we need to do a better job than we are to make certain we screen out terrorists to the maximum extent possible. So it's an attempt to try to address that problem. It's not clear yet exactly how it ultimately gets sorted out or gets resolved. But that's at the heart of what is being talked about here.
Mexican Immigrant Deaths Drop in Arizona Desert
Reuters News, Dateline Nogales, Mexico, September 7, 2004
U.S. Border Patrol officials in Tucson, Arizona say the number deaths due to exposure among illegal immigrants trying to cross the Arizona desert to reach the United States from Mexico has dropped sharply.
They credit repatriation flights to Mexico City and Guadalajara for the 70 percent decline in migrant deaths. So far, more than 9,500 illegal immigrants have been repatriated under this trial program which began on July 12.
Charles Griffin, a spokesman for the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, is quoted as saying: "The aim of the program, which runs until the end of this month, was to keep migrants from making dangerous and often repeated attempts to cross the desert, and the numbers speak for themselves."
According to this Reuters report, "the 261-mile (420-km) stretch of desert frontier covered by the Tucson sector is one of the most frequently crossed along the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) U.S.- Mexico border. It is also one of the most hazardous, with summer temperatures frequently topping 49 C (120 F)."
Elizabeth Garcia, the head of Grupo Beta in Nogales, a Mexican government body that gives humanitarian aid to immigrants, is quoted as saying: "The number of migrants passing though Nogales has decreased very significantly and the Tucson repatriation program could be a factor."
U.S. Agents To Get Power To Deport Illegal Aliens
By Rachel L. Swarns, The New York Times, Dateline Washington,August 12, 2004
The Department of Homeland Security announced its plans to give U.S. Border Patrol agents the authority to return illegal immigrants to their home countries without hearings before an immigration court. Illegal immigrants could be deported quickly -- within eight days of apprehension.
Border Apprehensions Rising in Southwestern Arizona
Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Phoenix, Arizona, August 11, 2004
Apprehensions of illegal immigrants are up 61 percent in fiscal year 2004 in southwestern Arizona. A record 9,856 apprehensions took place in July alone.
Federal authorities say the jump is a result of tougher border controls.
Border Patrol Buys Pepper Ball Guns for Crowd Control
By Chris Roberts, Associated press Newswires, Dateline El Paso, Texas, August 5, 2004
U.S. Border Patrol agents will be equipped with pepper ball guns to defend themselves in violent confrontations with illegal immigrants.
Since October 1, there have been 11 physical assaults on Border Patrol officers in the El Paso sector.
The pepper ball guns are non-lethal and use compressed air to shoot pellets filled with chile-pepper-derived powder. The powder irritates and the eyes and nose for about 15 seconds and can be removed with waters.
Heightened Border Security in Arizona Has Led to More Violence by Smugglers, Federal Agents Say
By Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Phoenix, Arizona, August 4, 2004
Human smugglers are losing revenue because of tighter controls along the Arizona-Mexico border, and they're responding with more violence.
Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame is quoted as saying: "We're more forceful along the border than we've ever been, so smugglers are getting desperate and lashing out against agents."
Virtually every day smugglers and their clients try to fend off Border Patrol agents by throwing large, heavy rocks at them. Some have attacked federal agents by trying to run down them down with vehicles.
Officials: Border Drones Producing Good Results
By Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Phoenix, Arizona, August 3, 2004
A pilot program launched June 25 in Arizona that uses unmanned aerial drones to spot illegal border crossings is producing good results.
To date, some 248 illegal immigrants have been detected by the two Hermes 450 drones, which use thermal and night-vision equipment that can detect movement from 15 miles up, read a license plate, view a vehicle's occupants and detect weapons. The program is financed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Arizona has become the busiest point of entry for illegal immigrants along the 2,000-mile U.S. border with Mexico.
Sneaking People into U.S. Tougher; Border Security Tighter, Ottawa Says Numbers Smuggled into Canada Still High
By Peter Edwards, The Toronto Star, July 29, 2004
Alex Swann, a spokesman for Canada's Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan, says smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States through Canada is much tougher today that is was before the 9/11 terrorists attacks.
But according to a 2003 report by the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada, a police information service, the number of people smuggled into Canada remains at the 1998 level.
The report also says Asian-based organized crime groups with international connections ar particularly active in human smuggling and favor the St. Clair River in southwester Ontario, the Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River near Cornwall in Eastern Ontario.
Cheng Chui Peng, the infamous "Mother of All Snakeheads," began her career as a people smuggler when she herself was an illegal immigrant living in Toronto. She later moved to New York City's Manhattan Chinatown and sometimes worked with the Fuk Ching organized crime gang of New York. She was extradited from Hong Kong last summer to face charges in the United States.
Border Patrol Rescues 30 Illegal Immigrants in Arizona
EFE News Service, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, July 22, 2004
U.S. Border Patrol agents rescued 30 illegal immigrants who became lost in the Arizona desert.
A local sheriff's office reported the group, which was initially spotted near the town of Bisbee. Border Patrol agents found the group four hours later near the Mule Mountains, where they were treated for exhaustion and dehydration.
The Tucson sector of the Border Patrol has rescued 439 illegal immigrants from the desert since October 2003.
Unmanned Planes, Fingerprint System Helps Border Authorities
Associated Press Newswires, Tucson, Arizona, July 21, 2004
Since its deployment a year ago, a new fingerprint database has proven to be a valuable tool in helping U.S. Border Patrol agents catch illegal immigrants with criminal records or who are wanted for crimes.
The fingerprint database has helped authorities in the Tucson sector catch more than 8,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records. About 2 percent of the nearly 399,000 illegal immigrants caught in this sector from October 1 to July 15 have criminal records or are criminal suspects.
In their first two months of operation, two unmanned aerial vehicles have been credited with helping agents catch 22 illegal border crossers.
U.S.-Mexico Agree to Plan for Sending Illegal Immigrants Home
By Suzanne Gamboa, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Washington, June 29, 2004
The Mexican government has agreed to take part in a program that will provide free charter flights home for illegal immigrants arrested in Arizona's deserts.
The program, which is set to begin July 12, hopes to end the cycle whereby illegals deported at the border attempt to reenter the United States through the often deadly Sonora desert region.
The illegal immigrants will be flown from Tucson, Arizona to Mexico City or Guadalajara. The United States is footing the bill, estimated to cost some $13 million.
Mexico's Interior Ministry is quoted as saying the program is "part of the humanitarian efforts by Mexico and the United States to aid and protect migrants who traverse high-risk zones, to prevent deaths and avoid abuses by migrant traffickers."
Border Patrol Unit Makes Arrests Inland in California
By Ben Fox, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dateline Ontario, California, June 20, 2004
Roving units of the U.S. Border Patrol have apprehended some 420 suspected illegal immigrants since June 1 -- all in communities 100 miles or more from the Mexican border.
While the border itself is heavily patrolled, the interior usually is not. The change in tactics by U.S. authorities, Fox writes, has "spread such fear that some people have stopped going shopping or attending church. Immigrant advocates say some are staying home from work, too."
California has more illegal immigrants than any other state -- some 2 million.
Militia Groups Patrol Borders
By Tyche Hendricks, San Francisco Chronicle, Dateline Douglas, Arizona, May 31, 2004
Self-appointed civilian border patrols are proving to be both a help and a hindrance in keeping any eye out for illegal immigrants trying to get into the United States from Mexico, according to this article.
Hendricks writes: "Some longtime ranchers in southern Arizona, frustrated by the steady stream of northbound migrants crossing their lands, have taken to patrolling their properties and turning over those they catch to the U.S. Border patrol. But in the past few years, a new phenomenon has developed: Ideologically motivated -- and well-armed -- militia groups such as Ranch Rescue have set up shop in border communities from California to Texas and advertise on the Internet for recruits to come down with firearms and camping gear to join border protection efforts."
So far, there have been few legal violations by these groups, this article says. Nonetheless, during the past year, Ranch Rescue along with the paramilitary groups American Border Patrol and Civil Homeland Defense have had run-ins with legitimate law enforcement because of their tactics, such as detaining and handcuffing illegal immigrants.
U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Charles Griffin is quoted as saying: "Every law enforcement agency appreciates a neighborhood watch. I would caution them to be very careful not to violate someone's civil liberties."
Plan Seeks "Control" of Border: Targets Alien Smuggling, Terrorism Near Tucson
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, May 20, 2004
This article discusses the Arizona Border Control Initiative -- the first of its kind -- set to be launched in the Tucson sector of the Arizona-Mexico border.
The Tucson sector's 260 miles of international border is the busiest in the country: more than 400,000 illegal aliens were arrested there last year.
The initiative will combine the assets of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Transportation Security Administration, the Interior Department and other federal law-enforcement agencies, including the police at the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation located on the border. Unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, and new sensor technology will be used in the effort to dismantle human smuggling networks.
In charge of the new program is David V. Aguilar, chief of the Border Patrol's Tucson sector.
A similar program launched last year -- "Operation ICE Storm" -- resulted in 2,059 criminal and administrative arrests, 162 indictments, the seizure of 86 assault weapons and nearly $2.5 million in illicit cash. That program resulted in a 30 percent drop in homicides in the last quarter of 2003 in Phoenix, were human smuggling activities had been growing especially violent.
Human Smuggling a Security Risk
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, May 19, 2004
Human smuggling and trafficking into the United States constitute a "significant risk to national security and public safety," says John P. Torres, deputy assistant director for smuggling and public safety at the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
In testimony May 18, Torres told the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, border security and claims that well-established routes for smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States could be exploited by terrorist and extremist organizations.
See the full text of Torres' testimony:
Border Patrol Targets Key Route; $10 Million Dragnet Cracks Down on Human Smuggling
By Michael Martinez, Chicago Tribune, Dateline San Miguel, Arizona, May 4, 2004
In an effort to slow down the $2,000-per-person people smuggling business, the Arizona Border Control (ABC) Initiative has been put into place.
The effort is bringing together staff, helicopters, and $4 million worth of unmanned aerial vehicles on what Martinez reports is "the nation's busiest smuggling corridor.
"About 40 percent of the approximately 900,000 border apprehensions last fiscal year were in Arizona," Martinez writes.
"The ABC Initiative also allows for increased motor patrols in federal wildlife refuges and parks across the rugged terrain on both sides of the border," Martinez writes, noting that many illegal immigrants die trying to cross the remote Arizona desert.
In addition, the ABC is trying to reduce the violent crime related to people smuggling. Tom Homan, a federal immigration agent, is quoted as saying: "You never used to see hostage-taking, raping of women and killing aliens.... This is out of control."
Martinez writes: "That violence prompted the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which is part of the Homeland Security Department, to deploy Operation ICE Storm, employing tactics against smugglers more typically used on mobsters, such as wiretaps, the monitoring of wire transfers and the invoking of racketeering laws, said Patricia Schmidt, acting associate special agent in charge of Phoenix."
Temporary Worker Plan Called Aid in Controlling U.S. Borders
From The Washington File, International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, April 5, 2004
President Bush's Temporary Worker Program would allow the United States to gain greater control over its borders, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner.
In April 1 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, Bonner said that the temporary worker proposal reflects the reality that there are millions of undocumented aliens in the United States and thousands more attempting to enter the country to find work.
Bonner noted that the president's proposal would regularize the status of these individuals and "allow U.S. law enforcement to get a better handle on who is in our country, and reduce the numbers of people we don't know about and who could present a terrorist threat."
Slovakia To Earmark 54 Million Euros for Border Protection
CTK (Ceska Tiskova Kancelar) Business News, Dateline Vysne Nemecke, East Slovakia, April 2, 2004
With its entry into the European Union this May, Slovakia will be eligible to draw 54 million euros (U.S. $65.2 million) to buy equipment to improve protection of its eastern border.
Slovakian border police have been successful so far in fighting illegal immigration and smuggling, according to this article. Police chief Anton Kulich is quoted as saying: "Last year, 12,493 refugees were detained on the border with Ukraine and more than 200 people smugglers were arrested. Although only about one thousand refugees have been detained by the police since the beginning of this year, charges have been brought against 72 people smugglers, which is one-third of the number of people smugglers arrested for the entire last year."
Kulich said the point of entry for illegal immigrants seems to have shifted from the border with Austria and the Czech Republic to the border with Ukraine. Most of the border crossers were from former Soviet Union countries; many others came from India, China and Armenia.
People smugglers face five years in prison if they're caught by Slovakian authorities; the penalty is expected to be increased to eight years with 15 to 20 year sentences if someone is killed in the process of illegally crossing the border.
As Border Woes Strain Arizona, U.S. And Mexico Talk
By Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times, March 29, 2004
U.S. officials are meeting with their counterparts in Mexico City to discuss a plan to repatriate Mexican border crossers by sending them deeper into their home countries and closer to their hometowns. The goals is to break the "revolving door" of illegal immigrants who, if they get caught unlawfully entering the United States, just try, try again.
But Lichtblau writes: "The cycle has become so entrenched that some smugglers, or coyotes, offer migrants three trips across the border for a flat rate, usually several thousand dollars, if they are caught on their first two trips, law enforcement officials said.... Nationwide, of those returned to Mexico, nearly half cross back into the United States only to be caught again, federal officials say."
A shortage resources, means that most of the illegal border crossers who are caught are quickly returned without being prosecuted or imprisoned.
With tougher border controls in place in Southern California and Texas, Arizona has seen a jump of 34 percent in illegal border crossings from Mexico. Arizona now has 40 percent of all illegal entries. Lichtblau writes: "The shift to Arizona has brought with it a sharp increase in violent extortions and drug seizures as well as the deaths of dozens of migrants left in the desert, law enforcement officials say."
Caught in the middle are the property owners on the American side of the border between Arizona and Mexico. The surge in illegal border crossings has created "a climate of fear," according to this report. The illegal's have allegedly smashed pipes to get water, stolen cars, broken into buildings for shelter, and accosted strangers for food and money.
U.S. To Launch Operation To Secure Arizona-Mexico Border
Dow Jones International News, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, March 16, 2004
U.S. federal authorities are launching the Arizona Border Control Initiative -- a major push to secure the Arizona-Mexico border against people and drug smugglers.
More border patrol agents, helicopters, sensors and other equipment will be provided for the effort.
The initiative also seeks to reduce the number of deaths among illegal border crossers -- in fiscal year 2003, 154 people died in the deserts.
According to this report, "the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, which covers all but about the 50 westernmost miles of the Arizona-Mexico border, has been the busiest region in trafficking of illegal immigrants for several years."
More Aliens Try To Enter for Amnesty: Bush Plan Spurs Jump in Illegal Immigration
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, February 20, 2004
President Bush's proposal for a guest-worker program that would give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants now working in the United States has caused a surge of new illegal immigrants trying to get enter the country, according to this article.
The National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents 9,000 field agents of the U.S. Border Patrol, reports that apprehensions of illegal immigrants in the San Diego area alone have tripled since President Bush announced his proposal on January 7 -- and many of those caught acknowledged that they had come to the United States seeking amnesty.
The Border Patrol had been surveying detained illegal immigrants to find out if rumors of amnesty had fueled their attempts to get into the United States. But the survey was dropped after January 27, Seper writes, because it "had become compromised."
The Bush plan is not yet law and does not grant amnesty.
Ex-U.S. Drug Czar: Don't Link Immigration to Terror
Dow Jones International News, Dateline Mexico City, January 28, 2004
Retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, the drug czar under President Bill Clinton, says that illegal immigration should not be linked to terrorism.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with private groups and security company executives in Mexico City, McCaffrey is quoted as saying: "Don't confuse illegal migration with drugs or terrorism. They are related issues, but separate problems."
McCaffrey, according to this article, said that terrorism inside Mexico has not been significant, but threats of terrorism did exist in Colombia and potential terrorist groups are in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.
Haiti: Deterring Illegal Migration
U.S. Department of State Fact Sheet, December 29, 2003
Illegal migration from Haiti is a threat to U.S. national security and endangers the Haitians who attempt it, says a fact sheet released December 29 by the U.S. Department of State.
The United States, the fact sheet says, "supports sending a strong message to all foreign nationals that, consistent with international obligations and policies, the U.S. will continue to interdict and repatriate those who attempt illegal entry, absent valid protection claims."
Bureau of Diplomatic Security Criminal Program Accomplishments for Fiscal Year 2003
U.S. Department of State, Fact Sheet, December 16, 2003
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security enhanced its investigative capabilities especially in the area of issuing passports and visas.
According to this State Department fact sheet, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security has already deployed 23 agents to high-fraud posts overseas to work specifically with host government law enforcement in bolstering border security capabilities and to prevent ineligible persons from entering the U.S. illegally. More agents are expected to be assigned to two more high-fraud posts in fiscal year 2004.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security has also strengthened its working relationship with the Bureau of Consular Affairs "to promote a proactive, zero-tolerance stance on passport and visa malfeasance."
White House Verifies Immigration Review: Amnesty for Illegals Being Considered
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, December 12, 2003
The Bush administration is considering a new immigration policy that might include amnesty for millions of illegal aliens living and working in the United States.
White House Spokesman McClellan is quoted as saying at a December 11 press briefing: "We've taken steps to improve border security -- significant steps, I might add; have made great progress there. We've taken steps to improve the immigration infrastructure. Those are some foundations for moving forward on a more orderly, safe and human migration policy.
"And this is a matter that really is under review at this point. We continue to look at it."
When asked to comment on Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's suggestion, made recently to Miami audiences (See below: Ridge Revives Debate on Immigrant Status) to provide some sort of legal status to illegal immigrants already living in the United States, McClellan is quoted as saying: "I think he's been looking at the issue of the large number of illegal immigrants that we do have in the country and looking at those that could be threats and those that are here for other reasons.
"And so, he's just talking about the realities that we are facing now."
Ridge Revives Debate on Immigrant Status
By Dan Eggen, The Washington Post, December 11, 2003
Ridge Endorses Legalizing Residents But He Says Illegal Immigration Must be Stopped
By Tanya Weinberg and Christy McKerney, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, December 10, 2003
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says the U.S. government should provide illegal immigrants living in the United States some sort of legal status.
Ridge is quoted as saying: "As a country we have to come to grips with the presence of 8 to 12 million illegals, afford them some kind of legal status some way, but also as a country decide what our immigration policy is and then enforce it.... I'm not saying make them citizens, because they violated the law to get here. So you don't reward that type of conduct by turning over a citizenship certificate. You determine how you can legalize their presence, then, as a country, you make a decision that from this day forward, from this day forward, this is the process of entry, and if you violate that process of entry we have the resources to cope with it."
Ridge made his remarks on December 9 at the Miami-Dade Community College at a town-hall meeting organized by the nonprofit Council for Excellence in Government. The Council works to develop homeland security recommendations for various levels of government.
Eggen writes: "Homeland Security officials said yesterday that Ridge's remarks were not intended as a proposal or a change in government policy but were meant only to point out an obvious challenge facing the government."
Brian Roehrkasse, Homeland Security spokesman, is quoted as saying: "The secretary was merely acknowledging a very practical problem that exists. There are several million people here illegally, and at some point in time it would be good to have an accounting of these people so we can identify those that might be a threat to us."
Guarding America's Border: Understaffed Patrol Must Balance Safety, Free Trade
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, Dateline Blaine, Washington, December 8, 2003
The 4,121-mile-long U.S.-Canadian border has only recently been getting the kinds of border security it needs to monitor the yearly crossings of some 80 million people, according to this report, the first of a three-part series.
Among the improvements: The Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System, which uses gamma rays to inspect the contents of trucks and other vehicles; radiation detectors to scan vehicles in an effort to detect weapons of mass destruction; "smart camera" video-surveillance systems; and, the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, which now involves more than 4,000 businesses and requires them to provide information regarding their trucks, drivers, cargos, suppliers and routes.
Although there are no hard numbers for how many illegal immigrants enter the United States from Canada, since 1993, about 28 per day are apprehended. They come from some 60 countries, including China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria, South Korea, Yemen and Mexico.
According to this article, international terrorists, including al Qaeda members, have "sleeper cells" throughout Canada.
Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian convicted of plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport in 2000, entered the United States from Canada, where he lived for years posing as a refugee.
Secretary Tom Ridge Pledges All-Out Federal Effort to Combat Human Smuggling and Related Violence
Press release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, December 3, 2003
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will do "whatever it takes" to dismantle the criminal organizations behind human smuggling, says Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
Speaking December 3 to law enforcement officials in Phoenix, Arizona, Ridge said that human smuggling and the violence it generates pose a significant threat to the nation's security, according to a DHS press release.
He highlighted the initial successes of ICE Storm, the multi-agency operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and applauded local agencies for their role.
Tighter Border Yields Odd Result: More Illegals Stay
By Eduardo Porter, The Wall Street Journal, Dateline Stockton, California, October 10, 2003
With stricter policing of the U.S. border and higher prices being demanded by people smugglers, more illegal immigrants from Mexico are choosing to just stay in the United States.
According to a study done by Douglas Massey, co-director of the Mexican Migration Project at the University of Pennsylvania, the average stay of a Mexican illegal immigrant in the early 1980s was three years; by the late 1990s, it was nine years.
In the past, Mexicans would enter the United States illegally to take jobs, make money, and then go home to their families in Mexico. Now they stay in the United States and pay "coyotes" to bring their families to them.
The illegal immigrants who choose to stay in the United States permanently are straining the resources of the communities where they live: Schools are crowded with Spanish-speaking students; local charities face increasing demands; and, hospitals are financially strained by the increasing number of uninsured patients.
Ukrainian Police Arrest 81 illegal Immigrants from Asia, Caucasus
Agence France-Presse, September 29, 2003
Over the past weekend, Ukrainian police arrested 81 illegal immigrants; most were from China, Pakistan, Georgia and Chechnya.
A group of 30 Chinese, who had visas for Russia but not Ukraine, were found in two vehicles near Sumy, bordering Russia, with their four Ukrainian smugglers.
Chinese, along with Pakistanis, head the list of the more than 5,000 illegal immigrants who were arrested in Ukraine last year.
According to this article, an estimated 30,000 illegal immigrants cross into Ukraine each year in an attempt to reach Slovakia, Poland or Hungary.
Those in Distress Seem Happy To Be Caught
By Luke Turf, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, September 7, 2003
When they're lost, exhausted and sick from the heat of Arizona's deserts, most illegal immigrants are happy to be discovered by BORSTAR -- the U.S. Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue teams.
So far this year, BORSTAR in the Tucson sector of Arizona has rescued 301 people; nationwide these elite rescue teams have rescued at least 959 people.
Ukraine Deports 46 Chinese Clandestine Immigrants
Agence France-Presse, August 27, 2003
Ukrainian border authorities have deported 46 Chinese illegal immigrants back to Beijing at their families' expense.
The Chinese, who had been trying to reach western Europe, had been detained in Ukraine for six months. The Chinese embassy in Kiev had contacted their families and arranged for them to pay the airline fares for their kin to return home.
Another group of 43 Chinese illegal immigrants will be repatriated next week.
Boris Marchenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian border service, is quoted as saying more than 400 illegal immigrants are being held in temporary detention centers.
In 2002, Ukraine authorities apprehended more than 5,000 illegal immigrants, mostly from China, India and Pakistan. Ukraine -- along with Hungary, Poland and Slovakia -- has become a major transit country for Asian illegal immigrants trying to reach the west.
Mexican ID Card Is Gaining Acceptance in Some U.S. Cities
By Rachel L. Swarns, The New York Times and International Herald Tribune, Dateline Indianapolis, Indiana, August 26, 2003
The matricula consular -- an identification card issued by the Mexican government to its citizens -- is increasing being accepted by local authorities in the United States.
Swarns writes: "In March 2002, only a handful of cities and banks recognized the matricula consular, Mexican officials say. Today, more than 100 cities, 900 police departments, 100 financial institutions and 13 states, including Indiana, New Mexico and Utah, accept the cards, which carry the bearer's photo, name and address and are issued by Mexican consulates....
"Illegal immigrants who carry the matricula consular still risk deportation and are still barred from working, by federal law. They cannot use the card to register to vote, change their immigration status or to obtain Social Security numbers or work permits," Swarns notes.
But in places where the cards are recognized, they ease the way for the illegal immigrant to obtain a driver's license, permits and various city services.
Germany To Oversee Future EU Land Border Police Force
Agence France-Presse, August 25, 2003
Germany will supervise a European Union border police force under a European Union plan to patrol the bloc's land frontiers and halt the influx of illegal immigrants.
Under "Project Neptune" -- as the immigration surveillance plan has been dubbed -- Italy would be in charge of immigration through the EU's airports; Spain and Greece would coordinate two checkpoints at sea.
Amnesty Programs Have No Impact on Illegal Immigration, Study Says
U.S. Newswire, Dateline Dallas, Texas, August 21, 2003
The 1986 passage of the U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which granted amnesty to 2.7 million undocumented immigrants but increased penalties and tightened border controls, was only temporarily effective in reducing illegal immigration, according to a study conducted by economists Pia Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny.
IRCA did not lead to a surge in illegal immigration, as some critics have charged, the authors say. But Orrenius is quoted as saying: "Apprehensions were similar before passage of the amnesty and post-IRCA, even though some 2 million Mexicans were legalized. This evidence is consistent with a rise in illegal immigration in the years after the amnesty."
The study appeared in the August issue of Demography, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Population Association of America.
Rise in Number of Women, Juvenile Illegal Immigrants Reported
By Michelle Rushlo, Associated Press Newswires, August 15, 2003
More women and children are illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to this report.
In the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson sector along the border of Arizona and Mexico, 38,000 women were caught in the first eight months of this fiscal year, compared to 32,000 during the same time period the year before. For children, the figure jumped to 8,000 from 7,000.
In the Yuma sector, which covers the southwestern corner of Arizona, 6,500 women were caught from October through July, compared to 5,362 in the entire previous fiscal year in that sector. Some 4,000 children were caught, compared to 947 in the last fiscal year.
It is assumed that most of the women are trying to reunite with husbands who earlier entered the United States. Tougher border security make it difficult for men who are illegal immigrants to travel back and forth to visit wives and family outside the United States.
Asian Illegal Immigrants Found in French-Bound Polish Lorry
Agence France-Press, June 23, 2003
Polish customs officers apprehended 33 Asian illegal immigrants -- 17 Chinese, 14 Afghans and two Chechens -- in a truck bound for France. The truck driver and two suspected Polish traffickers were arrested.
Poland officials often apprehend Asian illegal immigrants bound for European Union countries, according to this report.
Fact Sheet: A Day in the Life of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, June 19, 2003
On average each day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents apprehend 2,617 people crossing illegally into the United States and rescue 3 people illegally crossing the border in dangerous conditions.
EU Leaders Agree Cash to Combat Illegal Immigrants
By Gareth Jones, Reuters News, Dateline Porto Carras, Greece, June 19, 2003
European Union leaders agreed to spend 140 million Euros (about 164 million U.S. dollars) to tighten border security in an effort to control the flow of illegal immigrants.
European Commission President Romano Prodi is quoted as saying: "The (EU) Commission has made an effort to find extra money because our borders are very, very long and difficult to guard."
With eastern enlargement scheduled for next year, the EU will have longer borders with the Balkans and countries of the former Soviet Union.
Migrant Smuggling Undeterred; Tighter Borders Since 9/11 Put Traffickers in Demand
By Alfonso Chardy, The Miami Herald, May 30, 2003
Tighter border controls now make smaller smuggling rings more attractive for illegal immigrants seeking to enter the United States, according to this article.
Jim Chaparro, acting executive director for interior enforcement for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is quoted as saying: "Fifteen years ago, you did not need smugglers to get across the border illegally, except maybe a local guide. Now it's a humongous problem."
Federal immigration officials arrested 1,091 smuggling suspects in 2001 (the last year for which figures are available) compared to 350 in 1992. U.S. authorities apprehended 17,984 smuggled immigrants in 2001, compared to 681 in 1992.
Many small smuggling networks focus on a particular ethnic group. Top source countries for illegal immigrants entering the United States are: Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba and the Dominican Republic and China.
Ridge Says Unmanned Drones Could be Patrolling Borders by End of the Year
By Jesse J. Holland, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Washington, May 22, 2003
Homeland Security Tom Ridge told Congress that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could be patrolling the U.S. border by the end of the year.
In testimony to the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, Ridge said the remote-controlled aircraft, similar to those used in the war on Iraq, could help stem illegal immigrants and increase security.
Ukraine Detains 17 Illegal Chinese Immigrants, Traffickers
Agence France-Presse, May 22, 2003
Ukrainian border guards have caught 17 illegal Chinese immigrants and arrested an unspecified number of Russian and Ukrainian traffickers near the border with Belarus.
In the past month, Ukrainian officials have quarantined nearly 700 illegal immigrants, most of them Chinese, for fear of introducing into the country the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). So far, none have been found to be infected.
Migrants Put Lives at Risk to Obtain Florida Jobs
By Sandra Hernandez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, May 21, 2003
The routes are getting riskier and the costs higher for illegal immigrants trying to get into the United States, this article says.
Mario Villarreal, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Customs and Border Enforcement, is quoted as saying: "More and more people are turning to smuggling organizations to cross the border. What you are seeing are much more organized smuggling rings that use much more dangerous routes to enter the United States."
Rob Williams, director of Florida's Legal Service's Migrant Workers Justice Project, is quoted as saying: "The risk factor is measured in terms of the price." Smugglers charge more to avoid increased border enforcement, he said.
Hernandez interviewed "Josefina," a 40-year-old Mexican native and illegal immigrant who has been working in an American nursery for four years. She is quoted as saying: "I don't know that (if I left the United States) I could make it (back) again. I remember last time when I got here I was so scared and tired. My body was covered in scars from the cactus needles and all my toenails fell off from walking for three nights straight. It was horrible We could hear the sound of the rattlesnakes in the distance and I just prayed that I would make it.
"People don't leave here (the United States) because we can't earn enough to get home. You come here because you think you will make lots of money, but it's not true. But you only realize this after you have crossed and nearly died doing it. Now we can't leave."
Limbo of the Migrant Worker
By Jason Song, The Baltimore Sun, Dateline Carlsbad, California, May 14, 2003
Illegal migrant farm workers are increasingly staying in the United States year round, this report says.
In years past, farm workers from Mexico and Latin American countries would illegally enter the United States to get jobs harvesting crops. When the harvest season was over, they would sneak back over the border to go home to their families.
But the tougher border security measures instituted since the 9/11 terrorist attacks have made many illegals afraid to return home for fear they might be caught by authorities. Or, if they could return home successfully, they fear they might be caught trying enter the United States the next harvest season. In addition, human smugglers -- known as "coyotes" -- have raised their fees because crossing the border illegally has become more difficult.
The result is hundreds of illegal immigrant farm workers sit out the non-harvest season in abysmal conditions, hiding in shantytowns without electricity or running water or proper sewage disposal. Some of their encampments have been torn down by city officials, because human refuse polluted nearby water supplies.
The farmers who employ the workers part of the year say they are not responsible for housing the workers.
Letter of Barbara Comstock, Director of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice, to the editor of Time Magazine
May 13, 2003
Comstock clarifies a number of issues regarding U.S. policy toward illegal immigrants in this letter to the editor released by the Department of Justice May 14, 2003.
U.S. Toughens Immigration Stance
By Eduardo Porter, The Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2003
In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, U.S. authorities have been tracking illegal immigrants more aggressively.
"The new Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Homeland Security Department, says it is concentrating its resources on securing potential terrorist targets such as airports, stadiums, nuclear facilities, and defense plants," Porter writes. "The airport crackdown has rooted out 4,271 undocumented immigrant workers across the country. The Social Security Administration blitzed nearly a million employers with 'no match' letters warning them they had incorrect Social Security numbers on their payrolls, leading many of the workers to be fired or quit.
"The Internal Revenue Service also is considering tightening enforcement of long-ignored rules that allowed it to fine businesses who file employee W2 forms with bad Social Security numbers," Porter says.
Undocumented Immigrant Tally Hits 7 Million
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Chicago Tribune, Dateline Washington, February 1, 2003
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimates that the number of illegal immigrants in the United States reached 7 million in 2000. The net growth of that population may be as much as 350,000 each year.
California has the largest number of illegal immigrants, with an estimated 2.2 million, followed by Texas, which has some 1 million.
U.S. Cracks Down On Human Smuggling In Effort To Stop Terrorists
Prepared Statement of Johnny Williams, Executive Associate Commissioner of the INS, Before the Senate Committee on Finance, January 30, 2003
In January 2002, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) began targeting significant alien-smuggling organizations specializing in the movement of U.S.-bound aliens from countries that are of interest to the national security of the United States.
The INS believes that alien-smuggling organizations may wittingly or unwittingly be utilized to smuggle terrorists around the globe.
Since the inception of this operation, eight significant alien smugglers have been arrested and charged with alien-smuggling violations, and significant alien-smuggling pipelines have been severely crippled.
Alien Pipeline to U.S. Exposed
The Australian, Dateline Montreal, January 2, 2003
Canadian police arrested a man suspected of helping five Middle Eastern suspects sought by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The alleged people smuggler told Montreal police that his organization was paid handsomely to help 19 people enter the United States illegally from Pakistan via Britain and Canada.
According to this report, this arrest could be "the first concrete achievement" obtained by a U.S.-Canadian anti-terrorist unit set up after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
24,000 Turks and Iranians Arrived as Tourists. Only 1,000 Went Home
By David Williams, Daily Mail (London), Dateline Belgrade, November 26, 2002
Organized crime has made the Balkans the gateway to Britain and Western Europe for tens of thousands of asylum seekers and the biggest new drug route to the West, according to this article. There are also fears that terrorists are using the same routes to move operatives and weapons.
"The United Nations International Organisation on Migration has warned that unless a joint initiative is agreed, Western Europe will be 'overwhelmed by migrants,'" Williams writes.
In 2001, some 24,000 Iranians and Turks came as tourists to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, but only 1,000 ever went home. The rest were smuggled out to other countries.
In the last two years, an estimated 50,000 Chinese have crossed from Serbia into Bosnia, smuggled in through Romania and Bulgaria. Belgrade has a thriving Chinese community where the illegal Chinese immigrants can await their chance to move to Western Europe.
Williams writes: "The implications of the crime crisis for the Balkan countries and their fledgling democracies are massive. Mafia rackets are costing nations such as Bosnia more than their entire annual budgets. Customs and tax scams alone are estimated to lose Bosnia at least GBP 400 million (US$625,800,000) annually."
INS Announces Notice Concerning Expedited Removal
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) announced that all individuals who arrive in the United States illegally by sea will be placed in "expedited removal proceedings," and they will remain in detention at the discretion of the Justice Department during the period of time it takes U.S. authorities to review their cases.
INS said the decision is not a change in policy, but the "activation of pre-existing authority."
America's Southern Border -- Terror War's Maginot Line?
By Peter Benesh, Investor's Business, June 17, 2002
This article examines the possibility that terrorists will use the services of criminal smuggling groups to enter the United States via its southern border with Mexico.
Arnaud De Borchgrave of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is quoted as saying that organized crime and terrorism are merging.
"Mexico is a transit point for major international smuggling organizations," Adele Fasano, director for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in San Diego, is quoted as saying. According to Border Patrol officer Ron Hunter: "Anyone can connect with a smuggler over there (in Mexico)."
For example, San Ysidro, located at the south end of San Diego, is "the world's busiest border point," Benesh writes. In May this year, 120,000 people used San Ysidro each day to enter the United States by vehicle or on foot. In 2001, the INS there stopped people from 73 countries trying to enter the United States illegally.
Although U.S. security measures have been strengthened, smugglers are adapting. Since February, U.S. authorities have found three tunnels in the wilderness areas east of San Diego. "One was 1,200-feet long. It had a railway, electricity and ventilation," writes Benesh. "It was built by the Arellano Felix drug cartel to smuggle drugs and people into the U.S."
U.S. Customs Announces Container Security Initiative
U.S. Customs Fact Sheet, February 22, 2002 .
The U.S. Customs Service released a fact sheet on February 22 describing an initiative that would tighten security on oceangoing sea containers.
The goal of the Container Security Initiative (CSI) is to pre-screen cargo containers at ports of origin and transit rather than waiting for them to arrive at U.S. ports for inspection.
The CSI also calls for using technology to pre-screen high-risk containers and develop "smart and secure containers."