MS-13, also known as the Mara Salvatrucha, is a violent criminal gang that operates in the United States and abroad, especially in Central America. Law enforcement has estimated that MS-13’s membership is around 10,000 in the United States, and that number has remained relatively constant since 2005.
“There is also a current debate about the relationship between gangs such as MS-13 and unaccompanied alien children (UAC) arriving in the United States,” according to MS-13 in the United States and Federal Law Enforcement Efforts. “Some have suggested that MS-13’s presence in Central America could continue to drive unauthorized migration into the United States by those seeking to escape the gang and its violence. There are also concerns that MS-13 may exploit the U.S. Southwest border by bringing young gang members from Central America to the United States as UAC or may recruit some of the vulnerable UAC to join the gang’s ranks once in the United States.”
Keeping this potential threat in mind, there is the distinct possibility that U.S. schools and institutions of higher education could have enrolled as students or even employed as staff members individuals who are affiliated with MS-13.
At Campus Safety Conference West, held in Las Vegas, Nevada last week, Brentwood School District Director of School Safety Carlos Sanchez presented MS-13 – The Most Dangerous International Gang: Managing Gangs in Schools, Colleges and Our Communities. In his presentation, Sanchez, provided a brief history of U.S. gangs, why campuses are easy gang recruiting grounds, how youth are recruited, which students are most vulnerable to recruitment and which students are targets of MS-13.
In this video interview with Campus Safety, Sanchez discusses some of the trends K-12 and college campuses are seeing as well as some potential interventions schools can use to help students turn away from MS-13 involvement.