skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 220767 Find in a Library
Title: Central American Gangs: An Overview of the Phenomenon in Latin America and the U.S.
Journal: Journal of Gang Research  Volume:15  Issue:1  Dated:Fall 2007  Pages:35-52
Author(s): Thomas Boerman Ph.D.
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 18
Type: Historical Overview; Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper provides an overview of Central-American gangs, both in Latin America and the United States, and describes and critiques current national and international responses to these gangs.
Abstract: Beginning in the 1980s, nearly a million Central-American youth and their families migrated to the United States in order to escape the hardship and violence associated with longstanding civil conflicts within the region. Under conditions of poverty and social isolation, may of these youth became involved with gangs in the United States, most notably the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and the 18th Street gang. The latter was an existing Hispanic gang established in Southern California. Rivalry between these gangs ushered in a new era of Central-American gang criminality and violence that continues today. During the early 1990s, partially in response to increasing levels of Hispanic criminal gang activity, U.S. officials began mass deportations of youth back to Central America, a policy that contributed significantly to the proliferation of gangs in Central-American countries. MS13 and 18th Street gang members are also active in several Mexican States, a circumstance that the Mexican Government regards as a national security threat. Not only do gang members move freely across Central-American and Mexican borders, but there is a "revolving door" between the region and the United States. This circumstance requires the creation and implementation of a coordinated transnational strategy based on an analysis of the problem and a response that balances law enforcement, prevention, rehabilitation, and socioeconomic policies. This will require a long-term commitment by the United States in working with Central-American gang programs and human services organizations in building transnational professional networks capable of addressing the complex needs of existing gang members and the populations from which they are recruited. 30 references
Main Term(s): Hispanic gangs
Index Term(s): International cooperation; Latin America; Transnational Crime; United States of America
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.