Carlos Tiberio Valladares, a.k.a. sniper, leader of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, attends a press conference at the Female Jail in San Salvador, El Salvador on September 24, 2012. The leaders of the Mara 18 and Salvatrucha offered a press conference during the celebration of the 200 days of truce between them to reduce murder. AFP PHOTO/Jose CABEZAS
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is labeling a violent Central American street gang as an international criminal organization, making it the first street gang to be subjected to U.S. Treasury Department sanctions.
A federal law enforcement official said the gang known as MS-13 will be formally declared a transnational criminal organization Thursday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the designation before it is formally announced.
MS-13 has been accused of kidnapping, murder, drug smuggling and human trafficking. It started as a local street gang in El Salvador and is now believed to have as many as 10,000 members in 46 states and much of Central America. Immigration and Customs Enforcement gang investigators have long targeted the group, arresting thousands of suspected members in the last several years.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)