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Mara Salvatrucha: The New Face of Organized Crime?

MIN READMar 30, 2006 | 04:32 GMT

The leader of a Mara Salvatrucha gang is arrested in Guatemala City, 14 March, 2006. Organized gangs are responsible for most of the serious crime committed in Guatemala.

(ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Several newspaper reports in recent weeks have documented the spread of the Mara Salvatrucha criminal organization to places such as Calgary, Canada, and Maui, Hawaii. The media reports often carry sinister headlines ("Feared Gang Hits Calgary") or, as in Maui, note that suspects are "part of a Hispanic gang known for violence." With immigration reform a hot topic in the U.S. Congress -- and anti-immigration sentiment high on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border -- such news pieces are particularly provocative. The face of organized crime in the United States is indeed changing, but what is occurring now with the Mara Salvatrucha is not a new phenomenon but rather part of an identifiable cycle in the realm of criminal groups. ...

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