HomeNewsBriefFlood of Child Migrants into US Could Include MS13 Gang Members
BRIEF

Flood of Child Migrants into US Could Include MS13 Gang Members

EL SALVADOR / 14 JUL 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

US authorities have reportedly discovered gang members among the thousands of unaccompanied child migrants in holding centers, providing another facet to the already complex issue of migrants fleeing criminal violence, but one unlikely to pose a grave security threat.

A Border Patrol report obtained by conservative news site Townhall.com shows at least 16 children currently being processed as illegal migrants have links to the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) street gang.

Townhall.com also cited anonymous sources who said authorities had identified six youths with criminal records for serious crimes including murder and that gang members in the holding centers had been using the facilities to coordinate activities and recruit new members.

InSight Crime Analysis

The correlation between the deterioration in security in Central America and the recent flood of unaccompanied child migrants from the region into the United States is currently a contentious and highly politicized issue. However, as InSight Crime's research has demonstrated, there is little doubt that a significant proportion of these migrants are fleeing gang activity and criminal violence.

There are a number of reasons why children with a gang history may be among those flooding across the border. Gangs such as the MS13 begin recruitment at an early age and it is sometimes not voluntary, therefore children may be forced into a gang and can only leave it by fleeing. In other cases children may have joined voluntarily but found themselves incapable of carrying out the acts of violence required as demonstrations of loyalty and commitment; or they may have fallen out with the gang's leadership or simply want to escape their criminal pasts.

SEE ALSO: Target: Migrants

Nevertheless, it is still possible that some of the youths are active gang members, but this is unlikely to pose a serious security threat to the United States.

Latin street gangs, especially the MS13, already have a presence in the United States and there is ample evidence that they coordinate criminal activities with counterparts in Central America, in particular in El Salvador. Gangs on both sides of the border likely have access to established networks for the movement of arms, drugs, people and money.  It is therefore unlikely they would utilize the routes of common migrants, which are arduous, dangerous and risky, for any important gang operations.

The numbers support this; while the US authorities have discovered 16 gang members so far, if Townhall.com's account is accurate, this is a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of children crossing the border. 

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

EL SALVADOR / 3 MAR 2018

Mexico authorities have arrested an MS13 leader in Tijuana, disrupting another attempt by the gang to create a small international…

EL SALVADOR / 14 DEC 2010

The Salvadorean government has dismissed 330 prison staff members since Friday, in an attempt to crack down on gang activity.

BARRIO 18 / 25 MAR 2013

Gang members have reportedly cited their participation in El Salvador's gang truce as reason they should not be arrested for…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…