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October 30, 2005
Oh, Were These The Jobs Americans Don't Want?

The Los Angeles Times takes a long, hard look today at Mara Salvatrucha, the international criminal conspiracy that uses illegal immigration into the US both as a fundraiser and as a staging ground for the most hard-core gangsterism currently seen on the streets. MS-13, as the Central American-based syndicate is better known, goes back to the last amnesty offered by the United States and now has its tentacles throughout North and Central America. The US efforts to interdict the gangsters have been laughable at best:

On a sweltering afternoon, an unmarked white jetliner taxies to a remote terminal at the international airport here and disgorges dozens of criminal deportees from the United States. Marshals release the handcuffed prisoners, who shuffle into a processing room.

Of the 70 passengers, at least four are members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a gang formed two decades ago near MacArthur Park west of the Los Angeles skyline. ...

But a deportation policy aimed in part at breaking up a Los Angeles street gang has backfired and helped spread it across Central America and back into other parts of the United States. Newly organized cells in El Salvador have returned to establish strongholds in metropolitan Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities. Prisons in El Salvador have become nerve centers, authorities say, where deported leaders from Los Angeles communicate with gang cliques across the United States.

A gang that once numbered a few thousand and was involved in street violence and turf battles has morphed into an international network with as many as 50,000 members, the most hard-core engaging in extortion, immigrant smuggling and racketeering. In the last year, the federal government has brought racketeering cases against MS-13 members in Long Island, N.Y., and southern Maryland.

How did the United States allow such a large-scale criminal enterprise grow in its own yard? Lax immigration enforcement, politically-correct policing policies, and a wink-nudge attitude towards garnering cheap labor for business gave everyone an incentive to look the other way while the worst of the wave of immigrants transformed themselves from a violent street gang to a terrorist organization bent on personal enrichment rather than political activity. For an example of the cluelessness of American border policy, the Times provides this anecdote:

Cruz-Mendoza has been riding the merry-go-round for eight years.

He was a minor when he was deported in 1997 and again in 1998, federal immigration officials said.

In December 2003, he was convicted of attempted robbery, after he shoved a woman into a fence while trying to steal her purse at a South Los Angeles bus stop, court records show. As he demanded money, she said, he made threatening gestures and reached into his pocket, where police found a six-inch steak knife when he was arrested shortly thereafter.

In March 2004, he pleaded guilty to a second felony of drug possession, which was dismissed in a sentencing deal for the attempted robbery.

After serving little more than a year in jail, Cruz-Mendoza was deported for a third time in January, records and interviews show.

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested him in Arizona a month later. At that point, he could have been charged with a felony for reentering the country after deportation, which could have landed him in federal prison for as long as 20 years.

Instead, federal court records show he struck another plea deal with the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona, admitting to a "petty offense" of being in the country illegally. He was ordered to serve 90 days and pay a $10 fine, and was put on the July flight to San Salvador.

Small wonder that people continue to flood across the border in waves numbering millions every year. Why bother obeying the law when even the authorities don't bother enforcing it? While a good portion of these people want nothing more than economic opportunity, their flight enables others -- in some cases, their children -- to join MS-13 or other criminal outfits to exploit the American people who shrug their shoulders at their invasion of the southern border.

Stupidity such as this has enabled MS-13 to grow from a street gang of a few hundred illegals to a syndicate of over 50,000 international hardcases who will commit any crime for its own purposes. Michelle Malkin has long written about the foolishness of American immigration policy in general and specifically about the MS-13 organization on many occasions.

We need to demand that Congress finally do something about the southern border and the flood of illegals that come across it if we purport to take security seriously, especially in this age of terror. We made an impact on the Supreme Court and on spending just by speaking out -- and we need to do so on this issue as well.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 30, 2005 7:24 AM

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Captain Ed links to a Los Angeles Times' piece on the brutal, illegal immigrant gang, Mara Salvatrucha -- known in its abbreviated street parlance as "MS-13" -- whose "50,000 international hardcases" operate in at least 33 states now and is, as Capta... [Read More]

Tracked on October 30, 2005 11:19 AM

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Yesterday, Captain Ed had an interesting and troubling post on the rise of a particularly vicious Central-American gang called Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, M-18, or MS. At the end of the post, Captain Ed noted that deportations have had virtually... [Read More]

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