HomeNewsBriefBarrio Azteca on the Slide, MS13 on the Rise in Texas: Report
BRIEF

Barrio Azteca on the Slide, MS13 on the Rise in Texas: Report

BARRIO AZTECA / 3 SEP 2015 BY ELIJAH STEVENS AND JAMES BARGENT EN

The latest report on Texas gangs has downgraded the threat posed by Barrio Azteca while upgrading the MS13, reflecting how US gangs often respond to Latin American underworld dynamics.

The Texas Department of Public Safety's annual Gang Threat Assessment reports that the threat posed by the once formidable cross-border gang Barrio Azteca has reduced, with the gangs status dropping from Tier 1 to Tier 2. According to the report, the gang's influence has been reduced as a result of a deteriorating relationship with the Mexico's Juarez Cartel, successful law enforcement operations and infighting.

However, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), the transnational street gang that holds sway over much of Central America and several parts of the United States, has been placed in the Tier 1 category over fears that gang members have been illegally entering the country from countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. 

The MS13 join Tango Blast and Tango Cliques, Texas Syndicate, Texas Mexican Mafia, and the Latin Kings as Tier 1 threats to public security in Texas.

Each gang?s threat potential -- categorized as Tier 1, 2 or 3 -- is determined by a threat assessment matrix created by the Joint Crime Information Center. This assessment considers such factors as relationship with drug cartels, transnational criminal activity, level of criminal activity, level of violence, prevalence throughout the state, total strength, organizational effectiveness, juvenile membership , threat to law enforcement, and involvement in human smuggling and trafficking.

However, while the gangs are separated into tiers, the report also notes a growing trend towards "hybrid membership," in which individuals claim affiliation to various gangs, allowing larger gangs to increase their influence and reach, and providing smaller gangs with greater protection during incarceration.

Joint Crime Information Center 2015 Gang Rankings

InSight Crime Analysis

The Barrio Azteca gang has been a significant player in cross-border organized crime in recent years, and even played a major role in the brutal war between the Juarez Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel for control of the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez. While the war ended with defeat for Barrio Azteca's allies in the Juarez Cartel, the conflict allowed them to cement their presence in Mexico and increase their involvement in drug trafficking and other transnational criminal activities.

However, according to the report, the continued decline of the Juarez Cartel, which saw its last powerful leader, Vicente Carrillo Fuente captured in October 2014, along with the competition from the now firmly rooted Sinaloans has reduced the Aztecas' influence in Mexico, which in turn has created a more level playing field with gangs across the border in Texas.

SEE ALSO: Barrio Azteca

While the reports assessment of Barrio Azteca follows a certain underworld logic, its claim that the threat posed by the MS13 is increasing is more dubious. The report repeats claims that the recent increase in migrants from Central America has included large numbers of gang members as the basis for the growing threat -- claims that have yet to be substantiated by significant statistical evidence and which often appear to follow a political agenda.   

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BARRIO 18 / 2 FEB 2018

A former El Salvador mayor has become the country’s first mayor to be convicted of illicit association with gangs, a…

HOMICIDES / 14 FEB 2013

And so, how is Mexico doing? Is the violence rising or falling under the current administration? We don’t know, and…

EL SALVADOR / 15 JUN 2022

The MS13 gang and the Pentecostal Church are two worlds seemingly at odds. One man, known as Elvis, has a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…