Combating Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico


Fact Sheet

Office of the Spokesman

Washington, DC

July 18, 2007

Combating Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico

Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. today announced the Strategy to Combat Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico. Under this comprehensive strategy, the United States will work with partner countries to combat transnational and other gangs that commit crimes in Central America, Mexico, and the United States through both prevention and enforcement. It will help prevent youth from entering gangs and strengthen the fight against gang-related violence and other crimes. This strategy is one component of a larger regional security plan that was discussed by President George W. Bush, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger Perdomo, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon and now is under development by the Central American countries.

Criminal gangs are a threat to the security and stability of the communities in which they operate. Gang members prey on communities, families, and children by employing tactics such as extortion, murder, and other crimes. Gangs move with impunity across borders, and gang violence threatens fragile democracies.

The strategy sets forth five areas in which the United States will work with our neighbors to combat criminal gangs:

1. Diplomacy: The United States will work with partner countries, the international community, the private sector and non-governmental organizations to identify resources and make legal and policy improvements that help protect youth and combat crime.

2. Repatriation: The United States will work with our partners in Central America and Mexico to share information and improve the process of returning gang members who have come to the United States illegally and, where feasible, help returning gang members be productive members of their communities.

3. Law Enforcement: Regional police and justice officials will collaborate to track down criminal gang members, including by working through a new Central American Fingerprinting Exploitation initiative, and to pursue criminal gang members through joint law enforcement efforts such as the new Transnational Anti-Gang Unit in El Salvador.

4. Capacity Enhancement: The United States will share knowledge and tools with countries to improve law enforcement and prevention. This includes providing training, knowledge, and tools through mechanisms such as the Regional Gangs Program, The Organization of American States’ Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (OAS/CICAD), and the International Law Enforcement Academy in El Salvador.

5. Prevention: The United States will work with our neighboring countries to develop prevention programs and national and regional policies that protect our youth by providing alternatives to joining criminal gangs and helping members leave gangs.


Released on July 18, 2007

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