HomeNewsBriefUS Officials Conduct Raid Against MS13 Members in Boston
BRIEF

US Officials Conduct Raid Against MS13 Members in Boston

EL SALVADOR / 1 FEB 2016 BY ELISE DITTA EN

US law enforcement officials have arrested 56 alleged members of the MS13 street gang in Boston, reviving speculation surrounding the nature of the relationships between the gang's US-based cliques and imprisoned leadership in El Salvador.

According to a US Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, on January 29 over 400 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers carried out the arrests of the alleged MS13 members and associates in the Boston area.

The 56 individuals have been indicted on federal racketeering conspiracy charges, including charges related to murder, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, and drug trafficking. Some of the defendants have also been charged with firearm and immigration violations. Of those indicted, 15 were already in custody at the time of the arrests.

According to the DOJ, the Massachusetts-based MS13 members allegedly sold cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, and committed robberies in order to send money to the MS13's jailed leadership in El Salvador. This money was allegedly used to purchase "weapons, cell phones, shoes, food, and other supplies" for MS13 members in El Salvador.

MS13 members were also allegedly recruiting inside Boston area high schools and had committed murders of rival gang members, specifically targeting the Barrio 18 gang. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The MS13 is well-established in the United States, having a presence in at least 46 states and the District of Columbia, according to the DOJ. Indeed, 2015 saw a spate of MS13 related murders in the Washington, DC area, which furthered concerns the gang's Salvadoran-based leadership is moving to strengthen links with its US-based "cliques." The MS13 has been in the crosshairs of US authorities since at least 2012, when the Treasury Department designated the gang a transnational criminal organization. 

SEE ALSO: MS13 News and Profile

Such concerns are partly fueled by anxieties over the effects El Salvador's 2012 gang truce may have had on the structure of the MS13 and Barrio 18. For instance, El Salvador daily El Diario de Hoy, citing an anonymous defense attorney who participated in a recent trial against nearly 80 alleged gang leaders, reported that the truce increased the gangs' organizational capacity. "[The gangs] say they had a disorganized structure, but they reorganized thanks to the relationship they had with the [truce] negotiators," the newspaper's source claims. This reorganization was allegedly facilitated by benefits such as 300 cell phones truce negotiators distributed to gang members throughout El Salvador's prison system.

Nonetheless, the MS13 and Barrio 18 retain a horizontal leadership structure, and these gangs are best understood as networks of loosely affiliated franchises. While the MS13 in El Salvador likely does have contact with its Boston members, the extent or strength of these links remains unclear. 

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 / 18 MAR 2015

Rudy Giuliani -- the former New York City mayor touted as the mind behind a dramatic drop in crime in…

EL SALVADOR / 9 JUN 2017

The infilitration of cargo containers to smuggle drugs is now evident in El Salvador, according to the United Nations, highlighting…

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 21 APR 2017

In our April 20 Facebook Live session, Co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos about the recent…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…