HomeNewsBriefICE Raids Suggest Mexican Organized Crime Expanding Reach into US
BRIEF

ICE Raids Suggest Mexican Organized Crime Expanding Reach into US

BARRIO AZTECA / 9 APR 2015 BY LOREN RIESENFELD EN

US authorities have arrested nearly 1000 gang members in a nationwide sweep called "Project Wildfire," amid evidence that the gangs have links to Mexican drug cartels which could indicate the growing reach of Mexican criminals within the United State.

Project Wildfire, a joint Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation, pulled in 976 gang members from 239 different gangs, in 282 cities across the United States, according to an ICE press release.  While the majority of the arrests were US citizens, the hardest hit gangs have extensive transnational ties.

The US-Mexico border region saw the most arrests, but the operation reached as far as Detroit and Chicago, where authorities captured members of the Latin Kings and Sureño 13 -- both of which have links to the Sinaloa Cartel.

Police arrested 116 gang members in El Paso, a stronghold of Barrio Azteca and Sureño 13, two gangs that operate in multiple US states and play a major role in narcotics distribution for Mexican drug trafficking organizations, according to the El Paso Times.

In the operation, which lasted from February 23 to March 31, police also seized 82 firearms, 5.2 kilograms of methamphetamine, 7.8 kilograms of marijuana, 5.6 kilograms of cocaine, and 1.5 kilograms of heroin.

InSight Crime Analysis

In recent years, the relationships between Mexican criminal organizations and US gangs have evolved. While Mexican groups usually tend to subcontract narcotics distribution and contract killings in the United States to gangs, some groups like Barrio Azteca, a prison gang that originated in Texas, and Sureño 13, have formed stronger partnerships with Mexican cartels.

Barrio Azteca made an international expansion from the United States into Mexico, where its gang members worked as foot soldiers for La Linea, the armed wing of the Juarez Cartel, during a brutal battle for control of the Mexican border city Juarez, which set the stage for the Aztecas to make the jump into transnational drug trafficking.

SEE ALSO: Barrio Azteca Profile

And Sureño 13, a gang that evolved out of the Mexican Mafia in California, took over many Texas drug corridors with help from the Sinaloa Cartel, according to the 2014 Texas Gang Threat Assessment.

Closer relationships with US gangs allow Mexican groups to outsource the risks of entering US territory. Indeed, as the major cartels splinter and fragment in Mexico, there is some indication that an increased reliance on kidnapping and extortion as revenue streams has spilled across the border. For instance, an officer from the Los Angeles Police Department recently said they were receiving reports of extortion calls originating in Mexico that target Latino residents in the United States.

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

MERIDA INITIATIVE / 10 MAY 2011

The Tucson Border Patrol said they have discovered a smuggling tunnel, equipped with ventiliation and electricity, at the border between…

MEXICO / 11 JUL 2013

The United States freed and deported around 20 Mexican criminals who went on to murder at least 12 people, illustrating…

COLOMBIA / 18 MAR 2014

The massacre of five men from Colombia just across the border in Venezuela's Tachira state has drawn attention to the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…