Gangland (2007) s01e13 Episode Script

Root Of All Evil

male narrator: Los angeles: A high school student sat down To lunch with a friend in this Food court.
A young woman approached and Asked where he was from.
in the gang world, Those words mean trouble.
that really is, "what gang Are you from, and what are you Going to do about it? I'm carrying a gun, and I'm Ready to kill you.
" narrator: The teenager had No idea his life was in danger.
Without warning, a band of Gangbangers appeared out of Nowhere and brutally beat him.
Then they fled But not for long.
one of the gang members came Back in with a gun and began Firing at him.
narrator: Honduras, Central america: Gunmen opened fire on a bus Full of families.
They slaughtered women, Children, and the elderly.
it was something out of a Horror movie, something that You see in a hollywood Production.
narrator: Two senseless acts Of violence, Two differevt countries Thousands of miles apart.
And yet they are all connected.
They are all connected.
narrator: The crimes were The handiwork of one of the Deadliest gangs in the World: Mara salvatrucha, Known as ms-13.
they're killing people in The community and extorting Mothers, fathers, children.
narrator: Since its birth in The 1980s, this gang's tidal Wave of violence has spread in Record time they seem to have been Growing at a phenomenal rate.
I think ms now is In 41 or 42 states.
narrator: Crossing International borders on a whim.
we have gang members running Around from one country To the next.
narrator: Gangland goes deep Into the roots of mara Salvatrucha, back to the place Where it all began: The city of angels.
And as a former gang member Reveals, this is one home Without a heart.
you can't do anything else But think of evil things to do.
narrator: L.
: The motherland for more than 1,000 gangs.
Some have been exported across The u.
, Others, around the world.
gangs don't recognize street Borders, city borders, Divisional borders, and Obviously they don't recognize Countries, you know, Our physical borders.
narrator: L.
's Streets were the breeding Ground for what law enforcement Calls one of the most dangerous And bloodthirsty gangs in the World: Ms-13.
they've gained notoriety Over the years because of Their willingness to be Extremely ruthless.
the reach of the gang, it's Not limited to one particular City.
It actually has the ability to Transcend between the united States and central america, And it becomes a very big Concern for law enforcement.
narrator: Ms-13 was born Here, in the hispanic Neighborhoods west of downtown Los angeles.
we're in lafayette park, Which is pretty much theuh, One of the original ms Strongholds.
This is their neighborhood, Their territory.
narrator: It all started With a small group of Immigrants from el salvador.
they didn't come here as Gang members.
They became gang members.
They created themselves on the Streets of los angeles.
narrator: In 1979, a bloody Civil war broke out in El salvador with leftist Guerrillas battling government Soldiers.
The war lasted more than a Decade and killed 75,000 people.
Approximately 700,000 refugees, Including former combatants, Fled to the states.
a lot of them settled here in The greater los angeles area, Commonly referred to as Rampart, or macarthur park.
narrator: The vast majority Of these immigrants respected The laws of the land.
I would say that more than 95% of the salvadorans In the u.
Are hardworking, Decent people.
they just want to be able to Earn some money, have a good Job, and provide safety for Their childreneverything Americans want to do.
narrator: Yet the Salvadorans were not welcomed Into macarthur park, A neighborhood controlled By a mexican street gang.
that area happened to be Claimed by 18th street, A very large, violent gang, Mainly mexican immigrants, And you might think, "well, hispanic, hispanic Shouldn't they get along?" But that's not necessarily The case.
there was class distinction, Racism, and prejudice present Within the latino community, And so they were ostracized.
narrator: Some of these Salvadorans decided to form Their own gang: The mara salvatrucha stoners.
In the beginning, they were as Much about good times as they Were about protection.
basically, they just started As a bunch of stoners, smoking Weed and drinking, just hanging Around together.
narrator: The name combined The spanish word mara, or "gang," with the word Salvatrucha, a term used to Honor salvadoran peasants Trained as guerilla fighters.
Salvadoran immigrant julio Cabrera joined ms in 1987.
He was part of the first Generation of gang members.
He says the ms stoners had few Enemies at first.
they got along with Different gang members.
They would party together.
Ms and 18th street Would hang out.
narrator: But in short Order, ms became a full-fledged Gang, aggressively dealing Drugs and infringing on the Mexican gang's territory.
One night in the summer of 1990, a fight broke out at a Party, and an 18th street Member shot an ms gangster.
Some say the shooting ignited A war between the two gangs.
every night you could hear Bullets somewhere, whether it Was in your neighborhood or Somewhere else.
Somebody was getting shot Every night.
narrator: Some of the ms Gang members had been guerilla Fighters in el salvador's Brutal civil war and were Accustomed to the bloodshed.
once ms got going, they were Ultraviolent, and I believe That that violence comes from The environment that they came From in el salvador.
They had seen so much cutting People's arms off with Machetes, lighting people On fire.
It was just something that they Had seen and were mimicking.
narrator: Mara salvatrucha Began earning its reputation as One of the most ruthless gangs In l.
Former gang member charlie Vasquez was eight years old When his family fled from El salvador to los angeles In 1979.
these were, like, the first Gangster type of letters That ms came out with.
This was done by hand.
It says "l.
Mara trece.
" Yeah, and this is a 213, Which is the area code for l.
narrator: As a teenager, Charlie began hanging out in Rampartestablished ms turf.
He made friends with Some gang members.
In 1987, he joined the parkview Locos, one of the many ms Cliques that had sprung up Around the city.
I was an adrenaline junkie.
I wanted to find something Else, and I kind of found it Exciting.
narrator: Julio cabrera Helped initie charlie into The gang.
Join ms, every member Endures a brutal 13-second Beating like this one at the Hands of his new homies.
if you like the guy, you'll Count like, "one, two, three.
" If you're having fun watching The guy get beat up, you'll Count like, "one Two Three.
" narrator: Around the time Charlie was beat in to ms, The gang, based on its growing Reputation for ruthlessness, Was attracting hundreds Of new recruits.
they were known for being Really violent, I mean, for Doing a lot of shootings.
A lot of the gang was known For rape.
I personally didn't like that,! But a lot of them were known For that.
narrator: Ms was also known For murder, a reputation that Charlie would help them earn.
In the spring of 1991, charlie Got into an argument with a Rival black gang member on the Streets of his hood.
The banger hit charlie and took Off running.
Charlie caught up with him.
then I followed the guy, And everything happened From there.
And I didn't know how far it Had gone because I wasI had Drank and I was also under the Influence of cocaine.
I hadn't noticed that I had Blood all over my clothes.
I was just kicking the guy.
It just spilled all over me.
The person wound up dying.
narrator: Charlie was Arrested in his bloody clothes.
He felt no remorse For his crime.
it's a sign that you're a Tough guy.
You feel proud, you know.
And it was a black guy, And hispanic gang members are Racist.
So I was walking like a rooster Looking for a chicken with my Chest up in the air.
narrator: He was sent to l.
County jail to await trial for Murder.
and what do you do there? You start thinking, "okay, Who are we going to get? The cops, the blacks, chinese?" Whatever.
You can't do anything else but Think of evil things to do.
narrator: While charlie Plotted more violence from Behind bars, out on the Streets, mara salvatrucha's war With 18th street was spinning Out of control.
you could do drive-bys and Stuff, pass by and shoot other People.
The violence was getting out of Hand, where innocent people were Getting shot, even kids.
narrator: Another, more Powerful gang intervened in Order to stop the carnage.
The mexican mafia is the most Influential prison gang in all Of california.
From behind bars, it controls Latino gangs and their Operations on l.
's streets.
The mexican mafia leaders Decided that the war between ms And 18th street was bad for Their business.
what they wanted was for the Gangs to stop fighting and to Come together so that they Could help build the drug Trade, make it more efficient, Because if people are afraid to Stand out on corners because They think they're going to get Shot, you lose those sales.
narrator: So the mafia Stepped in as peacemaker.
They called this meeting at L.
's elysian park, Captured on videotape By law enforcement, And divided up the drug turf.
macarthur park got split up Into sections.
The ms got the southwest; 18th street got the northeast.
narrator: Soon after, mara Salvatrucha dropped the word "stoners" from its name and Added the number 13 in homage To the mexican mafia.
It represents the letter m, the 13th letter in the alphabet.
"13" behind any gang name Means you will align yourself Up with the mexican mafia.
That number is very, very Significant.
narrator: The war with 18th Street behind them, ms-13's Power in numbers exploded, and As the gang continued to grow On the streets of los angeles, They branched out in search of New territory, leaving a trail Of random violence In their wake.
narrator: L.
, December 17, 2002: 17-year-old wally ivano And a friend were having Lunch at this chinese Restaurant on santa monica Boulevard.
Wally, the son of iranian Immigrants, was a student at Nearby hollywood high, where he Stayed out of trouble.
wally's family was a very Likeable family: A very Involved father, mother, sister.
It was almost a picture-perfect Family, and wally was a typical Teenage kid.
narrator: As wally was Eating his lunch, a stranger Walked up.
he was approached by a Female who came up to him and Asked him where he was from.
that's calling somebody out.
That really is, "what gang are You from, and what are you Going to do about it? I'm ready to fight you Right now.
" wally was not immersed in The gang world.
He was not a gang member.
He answered honestly and Truthfully and said where he Was from, which was iran.
narrator: It was the wrong Answer.
The young woman, a member of Ms-13, left, then returned with Some male gang members.
They accused wally of being in A rival gang.
Again he told them It wasn't true.
In a courtroom 15 months later, A disabled wally told the jury What happened next.
the males that were there Also began punching him, Eventually threw him against a Wall, threw him to the ground.
A chair was thrown at him.
He was punched and kicked Repeatedly.
narrator: Among the ms-13 Gangsters assaulting wally was A new member, 20-year-old Marvin guerra, who had joined The gang two months earlier.
After punching, kicking, and Beating wally with a chair, The gangbangers fled.
But guerra was not finished.
He wanted to make a name for Himself.
in the gang world, one of The ways to prove yourself is Through a horrendous act of Violence.
you want to prove how Strong, how violent, how cool You are.
narrator: Within minutes, as Seen in this surveillance tape, Guerra re-entered the Restaurant.
The clerk crouched down behind A counter as guerra pulled a Gun out from under his sweater And aimed it at wally's face.
he took a bullet to his hand And neck, and he fell To the ground.
narrator: Wally woke up A quadriplegic.
narrator: Marvin guerra was Convicted of attempted murder And sentenced to life in prison With eligibility for parole After 15 years.
It was a small justice for Wally, who required 24-hour Nursing care.
Four months later, he died As a result of his injuries.
we had a kid here who had a World of potential taken away Simply by one random act of Violence by an ms-13 gang Member.
narrator: This type of Senseless violence is the Trademark of ms-13.
The gang, which had begun with A small group of salvadoran Refugees, had grown into an Army with about 1,000 members On the streets of l.
Terrorizing the neighborhoods They controlled.
people often think, "they're gang members killing Gang members.
" But, no, there's gang members That are extorting hardworking People.
They're extorting immigrants.
They're killing people In the community.
They have a great effect simply On the quality of life of the People in the communities.
narrator: And by the early 1990s, authorities had noticed An alarming trend.
Ms-13's random brand of Violence was showing up in Communities far away from l.
As ms-13 grew, its members had Spread out across the country.
ms gang members actually Have jobs.
They'll paint houses.
They'll do all kind of things.
They do have skills.
A lot of the kids have skills To do menial labor, and they Don't mind it, so they're going To be migrating to areas where There is some type of growth.
narrator: Ms-13 members not Only spread out in search of Work.
As the police in l.
Cracked down, gang members Moved on to escape the heat.
in some cases, members just Wanted to live in a different City where maybe law Enforcement wasn't as aware or As active against the gang.
narrator: This former Gangbanger, known as joker, Joined l.
's Parkview locos in 1992.
In 1994, his mother tried to Remove him from ms-13's reach.
narrator: Joker and his Mother moved to northern Virginia, and her plan Workedfor a few months, that Isuntil joker ran into some Old friends.
narrator: Within weeks, Joker started a new clique of Ms-13 and was recruiting new Members at both middle and high Schools in fairfax county, just Outside of washington, d.
It was a scenario taking place All around the United States.
By the end of the 1990s, Ms-13's membership reached 10,000 nationwide with cliques In almost every state.
they seem to have been Growing at a phenomenal rate For a traditional hispanic Street gang.
I think ms now is In 41 or 42 states.
narrator: And wherever they Went in the country, ms-13 left Behind a trail of violence.
Dallas, December 2001: Police Discovered the rotting body of A young man in the woods.
He'd been sodomized and shot Execution-style.
Virginia, July 2003: Along the Banks of the shenandoah river, Hikers found the body of A pregnant teenager.
She'd been stabbed 16 times, Her head nearly severed.
But the bloodshed didn't stop There.
The gang, firmly rooted across The u.
, would continue To spread its reign of terror.
they came back To el salvador.
They formed the gangs over here.
They started to do things that Were not known over here.
narrator: And even when the Carnage took place over 2,000 Miles from the gang's Birthplace, the root of ms-13's Violence was always l.
narrator: 2004: An ms-13 Member with roots here in l.
Was about to unleash one of the Most heinous acts of violence In the history of gangland.
But in a sign of how far ms-13 Had spread, the murders would Not take place in l.
Or anywhere else in the u.
December 23rd: San pedro sula, The second largest city in Honduras, was unwinding for The christmas holiday.
At 6:30 p.
, That holiday spirit vanished When gangsters attacked a bus Full of families returning From work.
they used two cars to stop The bus.
They used automatic weapons To kill the driver of the bus To avoid the bus getting away, And they sprayed the bus from Outside.
narrator: Then the killers Went inside and made sure Everyone was dead.
it was like in a war zone, Because the weapons were war Weapons: M16s, ak-47s.
narrator: 28 people died, Including 6 children.
it was something out of A horror movie.
Children and babies, friendly Women dead, young people, Old people.
narrator: With the help of Informants, honduran police Captured all but one of the Killers.
The missing shooter and the Mastermind of the attack was an Ms-13 member from l.
Eber anibal rivera-paz, Nicknamed el culicha, spanish For "the tapeworm," had Belonged to a ruthless l.
Clique called the normandie Locos.
he was the one who organized And prepared this attack.
He escaped.
We couldn't find him.
Very, very smart, very sneaky.
narrator: Over the previous Three years, the tapeworm had Made his way from los angeles And became the reputed leader Of ms-13 in honduras.
Authorities believe that the Tapeworm's bus massacre was a Response to law enforcement Efforts to crack down On the gang.
Ms-13's bloody play for power In honduras could be traced Right back to the streets Of l.
In 1996, the u.
Government Decided to confront The spreading menace of gangs Like ms-13.
Congress passed new laws that Allowed the deportation of Non-u.
Citizens For even minor Criminal offenses.
One of those deported was the Tapeworm, who had a lengthy Criminal record in california.
He and hundreds of other ms-13 Gang members were returned to Their native central america.
Without skipping a beat, the Tapeworm used the opportunity To form a new franchise of Ms-13 in honduras.
when we deported our ms-13 Gang members back to their Country of origin, whether it Was el salvador, honduras, or Guatemala, we put highly Educated, gang-wise gang Members in a country where they Became a big fish in a Little pond.
narrator: Ms-13 gang member Charlie vasquez was also Deported to south america.
In 1997, he'd been in l.
County jail for 4 1/2 years, Awaiting trial for the murder Of a black gangbanger.
Out of the blue, he was offered A plea bargain and given A one-way ticket back To el salvador.
when I got on the plane, First thing I saw was l.
, You know, leaving.
I felt sad.
But inside of my heart, I felt, "you're going to have a new Family, and you're going to Have new friends, a new life.
" narrator: But for many of L.
's deported gang members, Their homecoming was not what They expected.
because of the way we were Sending them back, they were Basically sent back with the Clothes that were on 'em and Really nothing else.
They didn't have any money.
these guys were coming from Over there, and they didn't Have anything to do here.
I mean, nobody's gonna Help them.
Some of them don't even have Family here.
What do they do? It's just go back to the gang Again.
narrator: Julio cabrera, Charlie's former homie and one Of the first generation of Ms-13 members in l.
, Also found himself back on the Streets of el salvador.
He'd been busted on a weapons Charge and deported.
To the poor teens of El salvador, julio seemed like A hollywood movie star.
the young people Liked my style.
It caught their attention.
They wanted to be a part of it.
I explained to them they had to Go through a beat down to join.
I recruited people and formed Cliques and starting getting Into more trouble.
narrator: Julio, like the Tapeworm, was just one of Hundreds of deportees exporting Ms-13 gang culture across Central america.
The result was an explosion of Gangs in el salvador, Guatemala, and honduras.
Authorities were blindsided.
they were totally unprepared.
Poverty plays a key role in why Kids join gangs.
In those countries, over 50% of The population live below Poverty levels.
Kids are ljving on the street.
Homeless children, the gang Becomes a viable mechanism for Them to survive.
narrator: And to many of Those children, the gang life Was a ticket to the big time.
we have a culture of Admiring, uh, the u.
Culture, the way of dressing, The food, rock and roll music.
What they didn't know, to be Part of that new glamour, they Have to do things that they Never even realized, especially Robbery, extortion, including Killing human beings.
narrator: Central america Had been turned into a Gangster's paradise.
To bangers like the tapeworm, It was ripe for the picking.
oftentimes we find that here In los angeles, they were a Petty criminal; when they're Deported and go to a country in Central america, they'll tend To reinvent themselves.
These kids that will look up to Them and say, "wow, I want To do it.
I want to do it l.
Style too.
I want to go by and do drive-bys And walk up on people and shoot Them.
" narrator: In l.
's Normandie locos clique, the Tapeworm had been a nobody.
when he was up here, he Really didn't have any power.
But it's like a lot of the gang Members who went back there.
Once they had been in Los angeles, they were Hollywood gangsters.
They were looked up on.
It kind of gave him some weight.
narrator: In honduras, he Reinvented himself and became A leader.
they had instant street Creds because they were from L.
, but they had Intimate knowledge of How big gangs work in a gang Capital, and they take that And pass that knowledge on.
narrator: Under the Tapeworm's leadership, Ms-13 exploded.
By 2002, they had total control Of many honduran neighborhoods.
they were going to houses, And with complete impunity, And they would rape the girls And take things from the house To be sold on the black market.
People were afraid to call the Police because they were Terrorized.
And sometimes the police didn't Even come to these places Because they were controlled Completely by the gangs.
narrator: The tapeworm Demonstrated the awesome International reach of ms-13 With his brazen bus massacre In December 2004.
I thought that this was A bad dream, a nightmare.
I said, "I have to wake up Of this bad dream.
" narrator: After the Massacre, the tapeworm evaded Honduran officials and slipped Across the border Back into the u.
He made it to within 80 miles Of corpus christi before being Arrested, put in a detention Facility, and then deported to Honduras for prosecution.
The accused killer was sent Back through u.
And yet, due to bureaucratic Bungling by officials, They somehow failed To identify him upon his return.
when he landed back in Honduras, apparently there was Nobody waiting for him at the Airport, and he just walked Away.
nobody checked the database, And when you have two or three Flights a day with 150 or 130 People on each flight, I think Immigration just, "oh, come in, Come in, come in.
" narrator: The tapeworm Has not been seen since.
we see a clear connection Between the guys here And the guys there.
We have seen guys going To the u.
Illegally, Committing crimes, And coming back.
They come down here and then Find their way back Into the u.
narrator: This unchecked Ability to slip back and forth Across the border gives ms-13 The freedom to terrorize their Victims in both the u.
And central america.
To this day, that terror Continues to be their stock In trade.
if people don't fear them, Then the gang doesn't exist.
narrator: Los angeles, September 7, 2005: Two men who must remain Anonymous and we call "james" and "anthony" Were walking by a westside park In ms-13 territory.
They were stopped by 20-year-old gang member Omar mireles.
Mireles told the men he was From ms-13 and asked them where They were from: Gang code For picking a fight.
In this police interrogation Tape, mireles describes to Detectives what happened.
he claims to them that He's mara salvatrucha.
They tried to tell him that they Were not gang members.
narrator: Under Interrogation, mireles admits He picked a fight anyway.
narrator: 18-year-old carlos Vela, another ms-13 gang Member, had been watching Mireles with the two men In the park.
at the time that the fight Was going on, carlos vela came Around the corner with a Handgun and fired several times.
narrator: Anthony was shot Three times in the back And killed.
James watched his friend die.
when the detectives spoke With him, he was scared To death.
He didn't want to go to the Police station and answer Questions because he knew this Was a gang murder and that if His friend was killed for no Reason, they would certainly Try to kill him, especially if He talks to the police.
narrator: This intimidation Of innocent victims is exactly What ms-13 thrives on.
"when we commit these crimes, We want to do it with impunity, And we don't want you going to Court, and we don't want you Talking to the police.
And we're willing to enforce That regulation by violence.
" narrator: Witnesses to Crimes find themselves In equal danger.
they'll monitor the crowd on A crime scene or a case that We're investigating in the Field.
They'll identify people that We've talked to or that Obviously we've identified as Potential witnesses, and They'll work their intimidation Techniques.
the witnesses scatter.
They sometim leave the state.
We're oftentimes left with very Little evidence or no evidence.
narrator: Creating fear is What allows ms-13 to retain Control and continue to profit From drug trafficking and Prostitution in the immigrant Communities they terrorize.
they victimize the poorest Of the poor, the people that Are afraid of contacting law Enforcement because they know That ms-13 has a presence in Their country.
They know that the gang has Connections down in el salvador And that they may eventually Take it up with their family Down in el salvador.
narrator: Immigrants and Civilians know that ms-13 won't Hesitate to commit the vilest Of crimes, no matter which Country they're in.
Maintaining their reputation is A matter of survival.
if people don't fear them, If other gangs don't fear their Borders, their boundaries, Their territories, then The gang doesn't exist.
narrator: James is one of The few who overcame his fear.
Reluctantly, he decided to Testify.
The case went to trial, and the Shooter, carlos vela, was Convicted of murder.
But the jury hung on whether Omar mireles was also guilty.
Mireles was set for retrial.
County prosecutor D.
Mathai handled the case.
Once again, james had A decision to make.
he was scared to testify and Did not want to, but he did it For his friend.
When the jury realized That this person was willing to Testify again, it was powerful.
narrator: This time, mireles Was found guilty and sentenced To life in prison.
Changes in california's laws Have made it easier for Citizens to speak up did you know these guys? no, no.
I never seen the guys.
narrator: Even in the lapd's Rampart division, the area Where ms-13 was born.
In 2004, california passed "gang injunctions," which Allowed police to arrest gang Members under public nuisance Statutes.
For the first time, ms-13 could Be arrested just for Congregating in public or even Being in possession of spray Paint.
it keeps 'em off the street.
The injunctions make it to where They can be, you know, taken to Jail for very minor crimes.
narrator: That helps Officers like jose sanchez and Sean schneider.
On this evening, a citizen has Reported that some men who look Like gangbangers are acting Suspiciously.
hands up.
hi, can I talk to you Real quick? I live here.
okay, cool.
Can you step on the sidewalk For me? Somebody called and said a Bunch of guys who look like Gangbangers were hanging out, Creating a disturbance.
That's all.
that's bull [bleep.]
okay, well, we're here.
If you guys didn't do anything Wrong, then we'll let you go.
narrator: Police say their Efforts have encouraged people To speak out against ms-13.
a lot of the community Members would start reporting Crimes more, whereas in the Past, they never did because of The fear of retaliation.
narrator: Even so, law Enforcement knows it's a small Victory against the wave of Violence perpetrated by ms-13.
if they're a hardcore gang Member, they're going to They're going to go commit Crimes, whether it's here Or el salvador.
There's really nothing To stop them.
narrator: And nowhere is That u.
/central america Connection more evident Than in prison.
narrator: Judging from its Inmate population, one could Easily mistake this prison for The l.
County jail, But ciudad barrios Is located 60 miles outside of San salvador.
It's used exclusively to house Members of ms-13.
More than 1,000 gang members, Nearly double the building's Capacity, call the jail home.
there are so many gang Members there that there are Entire prisons that 100% of Their population is of one Specific gangms-13 or 18th Streetand they keep them Separated because they know They're archenemies, And they'll fight.
narrator: In salvadoran Prisons, 60% of incarcerated Gang members are deportees Or have fled the u.
To avoid prosecution.
Ms-13 members from l.
Donated money to purchase tools For an inmate-run carpentry Shop.
The gang members use it to make Plaques honoring ms-13.
there's a powerbase for Those gangs, a tremendous Powerbase.
The gang members get to make Connections with prison gang Members, learn sophisticated Techniques for criminal Activities, establish Themselves with a professional Gang.
the brain of their Network is within the jails.
narrator: It's a network That reaches across thousands Of miles.
In 2006, salvadoran officials Made a startling discovery.
Authorities confiscated more Than 30 cell phones in Different jails around The country.
This one was found hidden Inside a prisoner's rectum.
members who are currently Incarcerated in central america Have the ability to communicate With members of cliques in the United states and keep alive Th communication network and This flow of information back And forth to make requests, To actually tell members to do Specific acts on behalf of Their old clique, on behalf of A particular individual, On behalf of the gang itself.
narrator: In 2005, a member Of ms-13 ordered a hit from Inside a prison in el salvador.
Gang members in the united States carried out the orders In riverdale, maryland, fatally Shooting two rival gangbangers.
It's a criminal relationship That reaches across International borders, and Authorities say it has become Increasingly sophiicated.
if the gang group in Honduras doesn't have the money To carry on operationsa drug Smuggling operation or a human Smuggling operationthey will Get money by courier from l.
To fund the operation.
narrator: In the past, Ms-13's hierarchy was loosely Based, but recently, the gang's Cliques have become more Organized.
we're seeing formal titles Within these cliques That normally had no Formal titles.
Those are sort of unusual Behaviors for traditional Hispanic gangs.
A vertical organization is Developing for some reason.
narrator: Authorities Believe that as the gang has Grown more powerful, it's Building an organizational Structure that lends itself to International crime.
are all of the cliques Involved in transnational Criminal activities? No, but certainly some of them Are, and probably in the areas Of human trafficking, the dope Trade, arms trafficking, and Probably money laundering.
narrator: It's a problem That's being attacked on both Sides of the border.
El salvador, summer 2007: Under The cover of night, officials Launched a series of raids on Alleged ms-13 gang members.
1,900 miles away in washington, The fbi has created a national Task force to combat the spread Of the gang.
while we're conducting Ongoing investigations in the United states, we also have the Ability to reach down to our Fbi and police counterparts in El salvador to further those Investigations, to actually Stay with the gang as it moves Between our borders.
we don't need to look at Anybody to blame for the origin Of this problem.
But what we need to do is to Work together to tackle this as A regional problem, and that's Why we're working together with The u.
narrator: Even former ms-13 Gang members are pitching in, Helping to undo part of the Damage they caused on the Streets of l.
And in their Native central american barrios.
After being deported to El salvador in 1997, charlie Stayed out of trouble and began Helping other gang members Leave ms-13.
what you try to do is change Their heart.
And then you want to try to work To either get them jobs, study, Finish school or anything else.
narrator: Charlie is now Completing his college degree And works for a computer Company.
I had a teardrop, And I had some other tattoos Here, an "l.
" and an "s.
" Here.
Yeah, I had a teardrop here, And it said sureño right here, So I was really into that.
narrator: And his remaining Gang tattoos are a tangible Reminder of his past.
Julio cabrera, who helped Initiate charlie Into ms-13 in l.
, Has also finally put the past Behind him.
In 1991, cabrera was convicted Of murder and sent to a Salvadoran prison nicknamed El infierno, Spanish for "hell.
" I had no clothes Except for my underwear.
The food was terrible.
It was watered-down rice, Basically a soup with roach Legs and sometimes the heads Of dead rats.
narrator: Julio spent 11 Years in el infierno, where he Decided to turn his life around.
I had a spiritual awakening.
My life changed totally from That day forward.
narrator: Julio is now The pastor of a church In san salvador.
He has no relationship with Most of the gangbangers He used to call family.
the majority, many, many Of them, are now dead.
Those that are alive, if they Are still alive, I sincerely Have no form of communication With them.
narrator: Yet even for Reformed gang members, the Question of returning to Los angeles still lingers.
I miss l.
, Because l.
's A lot faster than this country.
This country moves like a snail.
My culture is american culture.
It's not from here.
narrator: Whether these Former gang members would return To their homies, no one knows.
But for a global gang like Ms-13, there are always new Frontiers.
I think ms is gonna continue To spread.
I don't know where all they're Gonna go, but it's probably
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