In 2002, The Washington Times obtained a Metropolitan Police Department internal memo that stated that 20 MS-13 members from Los Angeles traveled to Northern Virginia because they were “upset with the local MS-13 gang because a Fairfax County police officer has not been killed.”
“We’re trying to decide whether this is something that has a higher structure or whether it’s just a network,” said Chris Swecker, assistant director for the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.
Mr. Swecker last month testified before nearly 40 mayors and police chiefs from across the country at a U.S. Conference of Mayors gang summit in the District.
During the summit, Chicago Police Superintendent Philip J. Cline said street gangs like MS-13 are far more violent than the Mafia ever was. He said the Mafia killed 1,111 persons from 1919 to 2004, but street gangs killed 1,276 persons from 2000 to last year.
Mr. Clifford said MS-13 has no ties to al Qaeda but does have an arrangement with the Mexican mafia. Gang members receive protection in prisons from the Mexican mafia and in return pay dues to the mafia, he said.
The FBI and other federal and local law-enforcement agencies are beginning to work closely with law enforcement in El Salvador and Honduras.
Central American officers will travel throughout the United States this summer to educate police in areas with gang problems. The U.S. Department of Prisons is working with prisons in Central America to improve their intelligence collection, Mr. Clifford said.