Central American gangs: a mafia with a thousand heads

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Foreign News Report

The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO) extracts and condenses the material that follows from Mexican and Central and South American on-line media sources on a daily basis. You are free to disseminate this information, but we request that you credit NAFBPO as being the provider.

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Friday, 9/24/10

La Prensa Grafica, San Salvador, El Salvador (9/22/10)

Central American gangs: a mafia with a thousand heads

The mafia-like gangs that lash Central America, known as maras, have various governments in tenterhooks, enacting laws and regulations to combat the thousands of members of these groups which arose a quarter of a century ago from the Hispanic barrios of Los Angeles. The mara phenomenon is concentrated in the so-called North Triangle, composed of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, countries characterized by poverty and family disintegration due to emigration.

In El Salvador, where this phenomenon is strong, maras are true mafia organizations involved in drug and weapon traffic, extortion and kidnappings. El Salvador’s new law states that ”the so called gangs or maras are illegal and are banned” and sets prison terms of seven to ten years for their leaders and six years for others, just for being a member.

Currently some 7,000 gang members are in prison in El Salvador, but police estimate that there may be 9,000 to 20,000 more out on the streets, because many adolescents are recruited daily. The “maras,” actually an abbreviation of “marabunta,” the devouring ant of the Amazon, have thousands of members in countries like Guatemala and Honduras, where the rate of criminality is also among the highest in Latin America. Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes stated that “It’s necessary for the government to increase control over this type of groups (gangs) to implement actions that may allow combat and prevention of violence.” Some Salvadoran judges have warned that the law “does not solve the problem of lawlessness,” while other Central American countries – Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua – fear that it might cause Salvadoran gangsters to emigrate there.

The gangsters’ activities are added to those of the drug cartels. Mexican and Colombian drug traffickers have had “ties” for years along Central America, a passageway for cocaine that they move from South to North America, which has deteriorated the levels of security.



La Estrella de Panama (Panama City, Panama) 9/22/10

Illegal aliens nabbed in Panama

An official source reported that Panamanian police detained a total of 16 aliens from Africa and Asia who had entered Panama from Colombia illegally. The aliens were traveling together and had reached an area near the capital when they were arrested. They are from Bangladesh (7), Eritrea (6), Somalia (2) and Nigeria (1). Panamanian officials have detected at least two groups of smugglers of aliens from Africa and Asia since 2008; they use Central America as an access route to the United States and Canada, (the stated destination of these 16) and charge around $7,500 dollars to the illegal immigrants who reach the area from Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela.



Armada Nacional (Bogota, Colombia) 9/22/10

Drug smuggling on the Pacific

The Colombian Navy reported that “more than 700 kilos of cocaine hydrochloride” were seized in international waters aboard a lobster boat that was not flying any country’s flag. Four crewmen were arrested. The report adds that the seizure was within the terms of the maritime interdiction accord subscribed by the U.S. and Colombia.



Grisly finds

[Both following articles illustrate all-too common events found in Mexican papers]

Diario 21 (Iguala, Guerrero) 9/23/10

The headless bodies of two men were found this Wednesday at dawn; both were seated in the back of a car. Their severed heads had been placed on top of the car’s roof; both victims had been blindfolded with duct tape. The event took place at the town of El Treinta (just north of Acapulco on the highway to Mexico City.) [Warning: the link to this article also contains graphic photographs of these victims.]



El Debate (State of Sinaloa) 9/23/10

In the town of Sinaloa de Leyva, (in the foothills of the northern part of the state of Sinaloa), two 18 year olds who had been carried off by force were found decapitated and their remains placed in ice chests. The article ends: “These events ad to the ambience of fear being lived in this town. Citizens have confirmed that there is a climate of insecurity and they clamor for the presence of police forces. Unconfirmed by the authorities, violent events have also taken place in the hill country.”



El Diario (Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua) 9/23/10

Murders in the back country

Thirteen murder victims have been found within three days in hamlets around Urique, Chihuahua (in the Sierra Madre area of SW Chihuahua.) All are believed to be members of a family.



And murders in Juarez

[The following was found in the 23rd place of a listing on “More News” in the paper’s “Local” section]: “The murdered here yesterday add up to five” [However, in 14th place, the entry reads]: “They kill another city police,” [and in 4th place, this listing]: “They kill two police last night.” [A review of the articles doesn’t show any correlation between the reports.] But the paper “Excelsior” (Mexico City) today reports that the Juarez Police is on maximum alert because four of its members have been murdered within 24 hours.




El Mañana (Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas) 9/23/10

Area violence changes the traffic flow of emigrants

The migratory flow through Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, has dropped in less than a month after the finding of the 72 migrants’ bodies in a ranch in the state of Tamaulipas. To the contrary, the area of Nogales, Sonora, reports an increase in the arrival of migrants from southern Mexico and Central America. The information comes from migrants’ shelters run by religious groups.



El Tiempo (Bogota, Colombia) 9/23/10

FARC leaders dead

Colombian press is highlighting the deaths of Jorge Briceno, alias “Mono Jojoy,” chief of military operations of FARC (the armed Colombian insurgents who have been challenging the national government for years) and also of Henry Castellanos, alias “Romaña.” Together, those two were said to be FARC’s most fearsome pair. Their deaths came about as a result of an aerial bombardment by Colombian air force units.



– end of report –

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