MS-13’s violent street gang rival, Barrio 18, with roots in Central America, is responsible for thousands of deaths in major cities and is spreading like a malignancy across American soil.
In March of 2016, authorities made a gruesome discovery when they found the dismembered bodies of eight electrical company employees and three farmers in a field in El Salvador. Initially, law officials pointed the finger at the deadly street gang MS-13, which is notorious for using machetes and machine guns, only to find out later that a gang known as Barrio 18 was responsible for the brutal massacre.
Similar to MS-13, members of Barrio 18 are often tagged with tattoos that cover their bodies and face and use their own sign language. Both gangs have origins that trace back to Los Angeles and are often Mexican immigrants
During the 1990s, their criminal activities attracted the attention of local law enforcement officials and the FBI conducted numerous raids in an attempt to arrest Barrio 18 members and dismantle the gang. However, their efforts were unsuccessful after Barrio 18 has once again risen to power by recruiting within the U.S. prison system.
As a result, recruitment numbers have skyrocketed in recent decades, creating a stronghold for Barrio 18, along with rival MS-13, throughout the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
“Like its better-known rival, [MS-13], the Barrio 18 has cells operating from Central America to Canada, including the United States,” the organized-crime investigative nonprofit Insight Crime noted. “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.”
According to a Fox News report, both gangs “make their livings through kidnapping, small-time drug trafficking, running brothels, money laundering and contract killings.” Street-level drug dealing is the main source of income for the gangs.
Slayings and criminal acts carried out by both gangs have reached epidemic proportions, with some states averaging over a dozen murders per day.
While the bloodshed may not be at the same levels seen throughout El Salvador, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world, Barrio 18 and MS-13 have managed to infiltrate nearly 120 cities in 30 states across the United States, claims the report.
A Justice Department report indicates that “the two gangs have turned the Central American northern triangle into the area with the highest homicide rate in the world.”
Barrio 18 has made the biggest impact on California, where the gang was originally founded in the 1980s, with a majority of street crimes reportedly linked to the gang, including murders, assaults, arson, extortion, human trafficking, illegal immigration, kidnapping, prostitution, robbery and weapons trafficking.
President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have recently called for the demise of violent street gangs, and have issued directives to law enforcement officers to crack down on them. Just last week, Trump traveled to Long Island to deliver a speech, vowing that “[w]e’re going to destroy” the gangs and send a clear message to criminal aliens that law enforcement officials are hunting them down and seeking to prosecute, jail, and deport them.
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