Border Patrol intercepts deported Salvadoran street gang member

By Greg Gross

4:55 p.m. March 19, 2008

SAN DIEGO – A member of a notorious Salvadoran street gang who was deported from the United States six years ago has been intercepted by U.S. Border Patrol agents while trying to slip back into the country.

The 34-year-old Salvadoran national was caught Monday afternoon near the Tecate border crossing, along with an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, said Border Patrol spokesman Mark Endicott.

The Salvadoran, whose name was not released, is both an admitted and documented member of Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. He has a lengthy criminal history and was deported in February 2002 after serving time in Nassau County jail in Long Island, N.Y., Endicott said. The Guatemalan had no ties to MS-13, Endicott said. The Salvadoran told investigators he had been a member of Mara Salvatrucha since age 18, and had been fully involved with the gang in New York City. He is being held “in permanent Homeland Security custody, pending prosecution,” Endicott said.

Formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s by Salvadorans fleeing their nation’s civil war, MS-13 grew out of response to harassment from existing Mexican-American gangs. The gang quickly developed a reputation for both a high degree of organization and extreme violence, and turned from protecting members of the local Salvadoran community to preying on them.

MS-13 members deported to El Salvador brought the American street gang ethic with them and recruited new members in their native country, many with guerrilla warfare experience or U.S. military training.

Today, the band of young Salvadoran toughs once confined to Los Angeles now boasts of having “clicas” in more than 30 U.S. states, as well as in Mexico and throughout Central America, according to FBI spokesman Jason Pack.

An FBI project matching fingerprint records in the U.S. with more than 100,000 fingerprint cards from Mexico and Central America have turned up tens of thousands of prints belong to individuals with ties to MS-13, Pack said.

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