Barrio 18: Meet the terrifying gang with 50,000 foot-soldiers across the US and so unashamedly violent it rivals MS-13

Sunday, August 6, 2017
By Paul Martin

US has vowed to crack down on ultra-violent transnational gang MS-13
But MS-13’s arch-rival gang Barrio 18 has a sickening reputation just as bad
Founded in Los Angeles and spread throughout Mexico and Central America
Believed to have 30,000 to 50,000 members across 20 US states
Allied with the Mexican Mafia gang but sworn rivals to MS-13

6 August 2017

MS-13 isn’t the only gang sowing violence and terror from Central America to the US: meet Barrio 18.

Arch-rivals to MS-13, Barrio 18 has an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 members across 20 US states and is linked to drugs, murder, kidnappings and other violent crime from Central America to Canada.

‘With thousands of members across hundreds of kilometers, and interests in a number of different illicit activities, Barrio 18 is one of the more significant emerging criminal threats in the region,’ write analysts for the think-tank InSight Crime.

Last week, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited his counterpart in El Salvador to discuss ways to crack down on transnational gangs – MS-13 and Barrio 18 chief among them.

But if history is any guide, eradicating Barrio 18 will be easier said than done.

Also known as 18th Street, the gang has its roots in Los Angeles of the 1960s, where it was originally composed of Mexican immigrants.

Over the decades, though, Barrio 18 threw open its recruitment to members from Central America as well, often targeting the elementary and middle-school children of immigrants.

As the gang’s ranks grew, it became the target of FBI and police crackdowns, sending many of its veteran members to prison.

But time behind bars just gave Barrio 18’s shot-callers a fertile new recruiting ground, and it quickly swelled its ranks in federal prisons.

Stepped up deportations also had an unintended effect, spreading the gang’s reach to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as hardened members were shipped back to their native countries, where they have battled brutally with MS-13.

The Rest…HERE

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