Tag Archives: Needs Assessment MS-13

Gangs, Again

Hot on the trail of yesterday’s post about L.A. gangs and statistics, the New York Times published “Los Angeles Combating Gangs Gone International.” It begins:

Two gangs that originated on the streets here have grown so large in El Salvador that there are two prisons in that country devoted exclusively to their members, one for each gang, according to officials who traveled there recently to meet with the local authorities.

That is just one measure of the way gangs in this city with the worst gang problem in the United States have bolstered their presence in Mexico and Central America, where they attract new members eager to come here.

Over the course of the article, you won’t notice any numbers regarding how many active gang members operate in L.A., and not until the fourth paragraph do you actually learn that its premise rests on 23 people being convicted of extra immigration crimes. In addition, the only two people quoted are, for lack of a better term, anti-gang professionals; evidently the reporter knows what Isaac said about narratives:

If you’re having difficulty building your argument with data, a good technique is to call local “experts” for quotes. For example, find and call the police unit responsible for gang suppression in your target area, then ask leading questions. Invariably, the officer will tell horror stories about rampant gang activity. Just ask if you can quote her and she will almost always agree. It’s always fun to include the names of some local gangs in your proposal for a dash of reader titillation.

I’ve written about questionable New York Times articles on my personal blog, and there is something vaguely rotten about “Los Angeles Combating Gangs Gone International.”

You also don’t get the names of the gangs, but one is almost certainly “Mara Salva Trucha” or MS-13 (sometimes spell “Salvatrucha”), which is famous enough or has good enough PR to merit a Wikipedia page, although you shouldn’t necessarily trust what you read there. Still, given all the publicity MS-13 has received, you can always cite Bloods, Crips, and MS-13 affiliates as making up your local gang problem.