HomeNewsBriefItaly Police Dismantle 'MS13' Gang
BRIEF

Italy Police Dismantle 'MS13' Gang

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 10 OCT 2013 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

Police in Italy have dismantled a gang identifying itself as part of the MS13, in a sign Central American gangs may be expanding their influence, and possibly their presence, in Europe.

The October 8 operation carried out in Milan saw 25 people detained, among them seven minors, after an investigation into two attempted murders in 2011, reported La Repubblica

The group identified itself as part of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) street gang and had contact with the main organization in El Salvador, reported Corriere Della Sera. However, the same report also says the gang was "independent." 

Among those detained were gang leader Josue Gerardo Isaac Flores Soto, alias "Kamikaze," who La Repubblica said maintained a "manual," including the gang's guidelines and financial accounts. The members were charged with conspiracy, robbery, assault and illegal weapons possession, reported La Prensa Grafica.

According to Cronaca Milano, there are 2,500 affiliates to at least 15 Latin American-inspired gangs in Milan, of which the MS13 and the Latin Kings are the most high profile. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The dismantling of this gang comes just months after reports emerged of maras establishing a presence in Spain, where the government claimed cells of the MS13 and Barrio 18 based in the peninsula are in contact with the organization in both El Salvador and Honduras. Whether the Milan gang was genuinely affiliated with the MS13 in Central America, or simply inspired by it, remains unclear. Regardless of the strength of the link, this case highlights the growing influence of Central American gangs in Europe.

There is reason to worry. The history of the maras is one of migration. Having originally emerged among Central American migrants who were later imprisoned in the United States, the core leadership of these organizations shifted to the isthmus when many of those convicts were deported upon release from jail.

The gangs present a significant threat to stability in Central America. Estimates of how many gang members there vary, but the Salvadoran government says it has about 65,000 members in El Salvador alone. They are responsible for thousands of homicides per year (a gang truce in El Salvador initiated in March 2012 saw the country's homicide fall drastically).

SEE ALSO: Coverage of El Salvador's Gang Truce

While the influence of the maras in Europe remains much less profound, their involvement in street crime is troubling to authorities. The Spanish government report expressed fear mara gangs could capitalize on the weak economic situation to expand their influence. With Italy also facing economic difficulties, authorities there are likely to have similar concerns. 

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 / 23 FEB 2021

A US federal appeals court has delayed the deportation of a former MS13 member to El Salvador, ruling that his…

GEOGRAPHIC PROFILES / 16 FEB 2021

Intibucá is not a major organized crime hub, though there is a notable gang presence along the department’s porous southern…

EL SALVADOR / 19 MAY 2022

A report by El Faro has revealed the initial fractures in the negotiated pact between the El Salvadoran government and…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…