T.O.: Cops finding signs of notorious gangs

American organized crime groups included traditional groups such as La Cosa Nostra & the Italian Mafia to modern groups such as Black Mafia Family. Discuss the most organized criminal groups in the United States including gangs in Canada.
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T.O.: Cops finding signs of notorious gangs

Unread post by Christina Marie » March 12th, 2006, 12:43 pm

Posted on Sun, Mar. 12, 2006
CANADA

Cops finding signs of notorious gangs

While police have yet to link them to violence, a few of the most feared international Hispanic gangs have made their first appearances in Canada.

BY CELESTE MACKENZIE

Special to The Miami Herald

TORONTO - Bits of evidence and hints that members of notoriously violent Hispanic gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha are coming to Canada are worrying law enforcement officials, although there's been no sign so far of gang violence.

On Canada's West Coast, the Vancouver Police Department has noted the presence of 24 Mara Salvatrucha members in British Columbia in the last three years, as well as 12 more suspected members. Fifteen have been deported, officials say.

And here in Toronto, police officers have spotted graffiti pointing to a presence by the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, said Detective Sgt. Doug Quan, head of the city police gang section.

Yet the gang members, perhaps moving north to expand their drug markets or escape the increasingly harsh crackdowns in Central America and tight monitoring in the United States, have not been tied to specific violence in Canada, the officials add.

''Based on the numbers we're seeing in the States, I think we're foolish to think they haven't penetrated our borders,'' says Quan. ``But at the same time, I can't say that they have committed any violent acts here.''

HOPING TO STAY

Detective Constable Russ Wardrop, with the Vancouver police, added that some gang members have made unsuccessful attempts to stay in Canada legally by applying for refugee status.

''Most make their way by train, and walk into Canada or come in vehicles,'' Wardrop said. ``We haven't seen infighting or turf wars. They bring knives and machetes along, but so far there's no sign they're bringing in guns.''

In addition to the MS-13 members, he said, his force has identified three members of the predominantly Mexican-American gangs known as M-18, the Bryant Street Locos from northern California and Mexikanemi from Texas.

The U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center estimates there are 8,000 to 10,000 MS-13 members in the United States alone, and 50,000 elsewhere, mostly in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police won't comment on the number or activities of Hispanic transnational gang members here.

Hernán Astudillo, an Anglican priest who oversees the predominantly Spanish-speaking, 3,000-member congregation at Toronto's San Lorenzo Church, says that while he knows of many Hispanic youths involved in local street gangs here, he's not aware of links to the more violent foreign ones.

But, he says, it's just a matter of time.

''The gang phenomenon in Central America is solidifying as young people there are being used by a corrupt system. . . . I have no doubt that they are doing their best to spread, to globalize,'' Astudillo said in an interview.

''Tattoos and certain phrases they use have been detected here,'' he added. ``This might be being copied from TV and the Internet, but it could be due to migration. Were the well-structured violent gangs to start having influence on the local ones, that would be the moment to be very fearful.''

IMMIGRANT ISSUES

The priest estimates about half of the Latin American youths in Toronto drop out of high school. He says they face difficulties negotiating between their parents' and mainstream cultures. Those parents are often absent due to long and at times odd work hours at factories and low-paying jobs.

Some lived through horrendous violence in their home countries. The embassy of El Salvador estimates there are more than 120,000 Salvadorans in Canada, most of them refugees from a civil war in the 1980s that claimed some 75,000 lives.

Astudillo called for improved community programs and educational opportunities, cooperation between authorities and, above all, compassion

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/ne ... d_americas

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Unread post by Trey » March 13th, 2006, 12:17 am

MS-13 have been in Vancouver since the early 90's.

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