Many US-based gangs have established strong working relationships with Central America and Mexico-based Drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) to perpetuate the smuggling of drugs across the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders. MDTOs control most of the cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana trafficked into the United States from Mexico and regularly employ lethal force to protect their drug shipments in Mexico and while crossing the US-Mexico border, according to NGIC and NDIC reporting.
Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations
MDTOs are among the most prominent DTOs largely because of their control over the production of most drugs consumed in the United States. They are known to regularly collaborate with US-based street and prison gang members and occasionally work with select OMG and White Supremacist groups, purely for financial gain (see Appendix B). The prospect of financial gain is resulting in the suspension of traditional racial and ideological division among US prison gangs, providing MDTOs the means to further expand their influence over drug trafficking in the United States. NDIC reporting indicates that Hispanic and African American street gangs are expanding their influence over drug distribution in rural and suburban areas and acquire drugs directly from MDTOs in Mexico or along the Southwest border.
|Many Los Angeles-based Sinaloa cartel members use local gang members to assist in or commit kidnappings, acquire or sell drugs, and collect drug proceeds.
Source: DHS September 2010; DEA November 2010
NGIC law enforcement partners report that gangs in their jurisdiction have ties to Mexican criminal organizations, such as MDTOs.
- Well-established US prison gangs such as the Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos (HPL), La Eme, the Texas Syndicate, Barrio Azteca and the Tango Blast are reportedly aligned with or connected to MDTOs.
- NDIC reporting indicates that street gangs such as the Latin Kings, MS-13, Sureños, and Norteños maintain working relationships with MDTOs. Sureños in California and South Carolina maintain an association with the Los Zetas Cartel in Mexico, according to 2010 NGIC reporting.
- According to 2010 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and open source reporting, some Aryan Brotherhood and La Eme prison gang members—bitter rivals inside prison—work together with MDTOs to smuggle drugs into California and prisons, steal vehicles, smuggle illegal weapons into Mexico, and intimidate rivals of the Mexican cartels.
|US-Based Gangs with Ties to MDTOs|
|Arizona New Mexican
Black Guerilla Family
La Nuestra Familia
Texas Mexican Mafia
18th Street Gang
MDTOs contract with street and prison gangs along the Southwest border to enforce and secure smuggling operations in Mexico and the United States, particularly in California and Texas border communities. Gang members who are US citizens are valuable to MDTOs, as they can generally cross the US-Mexico border with less law enforcement scrutiny and are therefore less likely to have illicit drug loads interdicted.
MDTOs use street and prison gang members in Mexico, Texas, and California to protect smuggling routes, collect debts, transport illicit goods, including drugs and weapons, and execute rival traffickers. Many of these crimes are committed in exchange for money and drugs, and as a result, street and prison gangs in the United States have gained greater control over drug distribution in rural and suburban areas. Gang members, including Barrio Azteca, MS-13 and Sureños have been intercepted driving with weapons and currency toward Mexico from such states as California, Colorado, Georgia, and Texas according to open source reporting.
Major Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations
Gangs’ increased collaboration with MDTOs has altered the dynamics of the drug trade at the wholesale level. US gangs, which traditionally served as the primary organized retail or mid-level distributor of drugs in most major US cities, are now purchasing drugs directly from the cartels, thereby eliminating the mid-level wholesale dealer. Furthermore, advanced technology, such as wireless Internet and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capabilities, has made the recruitment, collaboration, and coordination of criminal activity more efficient and lucrative, and allows direct contact between the gangs and DTOs.
To increase their control over drug trafficking in smaller markets, street gangs have acquired large wholesale quantities of drugs at lower prices directly from DTOs in Mexico and along the US Southwest border.