HomeNewsBriefUS Treasury Blacklists MS13 Leaders
BRIEF

US Treasury Blacklists MS13 Leaders

EL SALVADOR / 17 APR 2015 BY HÉCTOR SILVA ÁVALOS EN

The latest designations bring the number of El Salvadoran gang members blacklisted by the United States for forming part of international criminal organizations to ten. 

The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) named Jose Luis Mendoza Figueroa, alias “Viejo Pavas,” Elmer Canales Rivera, alias “Croock,” and Eduardo Erazo Nolasco, alias “Colocho de Wester,” as international criminals, in an April 16 press release. All three are members of Salvadoran street gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS13). 

The three join the seven MS13 members who have already been named transnational crime figures by the US federal government, on June 5, 2013. On October 2012, the Treasury Department had named the Salvadoran gang as transnational criminal organization (TCOs), pursuant to Executive Order 13581. 

This article was originally published by La Prensa Grafica on April 17, 2015, and was translated and edited for clarification, and reprinted with permission. See Spanish original here

Mendoza Figueroa, Canales Rivera and Erazo Nolasco are imprisoned in El Salvador and were among the gang members transferred out of maximum security prison Zacatecoluca, as part of the 2012 truce between MS13, the Barrio 18, and the government of President Mauricio Funes. Erazo Nolasco and Canales Rivera were convicted of kidnapping, while Mendoza Figueroa is serving time for aggravated murder, weapons possession and illicit gang affiliation. 

 

15-04-17-ElSalvador-MS13designations

 

Between April 15 to 16, El Savador's Justice and Pubic Security Ministry sent Erazo Nolasco and Mendoza Figueroa back to Zacatecoluca, as part of the new government's reversal of the gang truce.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives and Negatives

According to the Treasury Department, the three gang members are part of local cells -- or "cliques" -- created in the United States. These cliques make up the MS13's basic structure.

"Local MS13 cliques take direction from the group’s foreign leadership for strategic decisions involving moves into new territories and efforts to recruit new members," the US federal agency said in the OFAC press release. "Money generated by local MS13 cliques in the United States is consolidated and funneled to the group’s leadership in El Salvador."

OFAC says Mendoza Figueroa is a founder of the Mara Salvatrucha and a member of the Seven & Eleven Locos clique. Erazo Nolasco belongs to the Western Locos and Canales Rivera to Hollywood Locos. All these cliques were created in Los Angeles, California, during the 1990s.

Federal law enforcement agencies have been closely following MS13 activity since the late '90's, when the Central American gang began migrating from Los Angeles and Southern California to other US cities - particularly the East Coast. 

SEE ALSO: MS13 News and Profiles

Since 2012, the same time the administration of ex-President Funes was managing the gang truce -- which almost halved El Salvador's homicide rate over a six-month period that year -- the Treasury Department launched a diplomatic offensive via its OFAC list. 

Frozen Assets

The immediate effect of the designation is that the gang members' US assets may be frozen and people who conduct financial business with them or their associates can be punished with fines from $250,000 to $1 million, as well as up to 20 years in prison. 

Last year the Obama administration, via the OFAC, listed another Salvadoran as an international criminal. Washington accused Jose Adan Salazar Umaña, alias "Chepe Diablo," a businessman from northern city Metapan, of heading an international drug trafficking group. He was punished with the same restrictions now being applied to the gang members and their associates. 

In the case of the MS13 members, it is unlikely that their leaders have assets or money that the United States may seize, according to an analysis by the US Department of State. "Transnational street gangs were involved in street-level drug sales but not major trafficking as part of the logistics supply chain for Mexican, Colombian, and other drug trafficking organizations," the State Department said in its 2012 report on drug trafficking in El Salvador. 

Financial transactions mainly occur in small amounts and are carried out by gang members' relatives who live in Central American communities within the United States. "Yes, there are money transfers and extortion activity, but we haven't seen transactions above $2,000," said a source in Montgomery County's anti-gang police unit in Maryland, who spoke in exchange for anonymity.

This article originally appeared in La Prensa Grafica and was translated and reproduced with permission. See Spanish original here.

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 JUN 2021

On the eve of the extradition of top leaders of El Salvador’s feared Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang to the United…

EL SALVADOR / 5 JUL 2021

The United States has released a highly-anticipated report on corrupt actors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, but the lack…

CHEPE DIABLO / 25 MAY 2021

A business magnate who is an alleged leader of El Salvador’s Texis Cartel has escaped justice once again, after a…

About InSight Crime

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…

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…