In recent years, concerns have been raised – both from the media and the US authorities themselves – with regards to the violent crimes committed by transnational gangs that have escalated dramatically in recent years. The 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment released by the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) and the National Drug Intelligence Center reported that the gang threat is no longer confined to the streets and in fact has already been magnified as gangs migrate from urban areas to suburban and local communities, expanding their coverage to become regional and national in scope.
Two of the primary gangs that cause significant concern are the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the 18th Street Gang (M-18). The US Government Accountability Office, in a report to the US Congress, has identified these gangs as serious threats to the public safety not just in the country but also in Central American countries because of their violent nature, the scope of their criminal activities and their rapid expansion (GAO 2010, 1-2). Unarguably, gangs pose significant threats to stability, security, and even in investment and the economic climate of a country. These threats have already consistently assailed Latin American countries for years and that they - spilling over to the US - is no longer a remote possibility. What is worse is that the transnational gang issue entails several other problems, including – but not limited to – illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and, as previously mentioned, crime and violence. Numerous American national law enforcement agencies quantify the threat to the nation in different ways. But, one thing they all agree on is that gangs are emerging as a national security threat. These violent drug gangs primarily from Central America can impact public security, increased drug violence and crime in the American experience.
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