The vicious street gang MS-13 is trying to unify itself across the U.S., posing a threat to law enforcement in major American cities — including the nation's capital — that could rival the major drug cartels of Mexico and Colombia, according to a report published Wednesday in the Washington Times.
"Traditionally, the gang consisted of loosely affiliated groups known as cliques; however, law enforcement officials have reported increased coordination of criminal activity among Mara Salvatrucha cliques in the Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York metropolitan areas," states a confidential memo sent out earlier this month from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Illinois, the newspaper reported.
"MS-13 is attempting to become a unified criminal enterprise operating under one leadership."
The newspaper obtained a copy of the memo and an Army intelligence presentation on the growth of MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha.
Federal law-enforcement officials say the gang is adopting tactics used by major Mexican and Colombian drug-trafficking groups and has become a gun-for-hire for many major Central and South American drug-trafficking cartels, the newspaper reported.
"Indications that previously independent cliques are forming alliances with other MS-13 cliques, as well as with other gangs to facilitate criminal activity, further heighten the threat," the letter continued. "It would be dangerous to look at MS-13 as just another street gang."