Members of one of the most dangerous drug gangs in the Western Hemisphere are infiltrating a federal facility and trying to recruit Central American youths illegally entering the United States, sources tell Fox News.
MS-13 members are recruiting pre-teens from among the estimated 57,000 unaccompanied youths and others who have come to the U.S. from Central America in roughly the past nine months, Shawn Moran, of the National Border Patrol Council, told Fox News.
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Border Patrol agents have witnessed the recruitment drive at one facility in Nogales, Ariz. Other gangs are actually using a Red Cross phone bank there to “recruit, enlist and pressure” the juveniles, Moran told Fox.
"It makes sense that MS-13 would do the same,” said Moran, vice president for the union, which represents border patrol agents.
MS-13, once known as "Mara Salvatrucha," has a large presence in El Salvador, where gang violence is being blamed for the huge influx of children leaving the country.
"MS-13 members engage in a wide range of criminal activity, including drug distribution, murder, rape, prostitution, robbery, home invasions, immigration offenses, kidnapping, carjackings/auto thefts, and vandalism," the FBI recently reported.
"Most of these crimes, you’ll notice, have one thing in common — they are exceedingly violent," a recent FBI report continues. "And while most of the violence is directed toward other MS-13 members or rival street gangs, innocent citizens often get caught in the crossfire."
Moran said agents are having a difficult time isolating gang members because many are minors. But officials with the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are downplaying the problems, Fox reports.
"We know it’s happening because agents are telling us," Moran told Fox News. "The Border Patrol is trying to downplay it."
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