MS-13: Targeting Las Vegas?
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) —
MS-13 is considered one of the most dangerous gangs in the nation.
The gang is known for its violence and brutality and local law enforcement tells us the gangsters have made Las Vegas their home.
The gang is La Mara Salvatrucha, better known as MS-13.
Law enforcement authorities in Las Vegas say this notorious gang, born in Los Angeles in the '80's--has hit our valley streets. The group was originally formed by illegal immigrants from El Salvador.
Jessica Vaughn, Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington D.C. has analyzed this ruthless gang for the past two decades.
"They use violence and savagery to intimidate people in the community and that's what gives them their power", she says.
Early this year, LVMPD announced the arrest of five MS-13 members. Police said the gangsters had been responsible for ten murders in Clark County over a 12 month period.
According to investigators, some of the victim's bodies were dumped near Mt. Charleston. Others in remote areas around Lake Mead.
"The suspects involved in these crimes are extremely violent and killed their victims over as little as identifying with another gang or participating in street narcotic sales", said Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
Law enforcement officials say the MS- 13 gang targets their rivals, but innocent lives all too often get fatally caught in the violence.
Fearing retribution, the mother of 23-year-old Izaak Towery did not want to show her face.
She says she once lived here with her son "Izaak."
It was back in February when "Izaak" disappeared. Weeks later his body was found along State Route 157. Izaak's mother says her son was playing video games with a friend the night he went missing, and she says he was a good kid and not a troublemaker.
Police confirm MS-13 abducted Izaak and was behind his murder.
Vaughn says MS- 13 will target random people.
"Especially the newer members of the gang who are trying to achieve a more senior status in the gang will kill people for the sake of showing they can kill people."
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, "We are going to focus on and give special all of government attention to MS-13."
Just this past month, US Attorney Jeff Sessions named the MS- 13 gang as one of the most threatening to the United States. Sessions said they have become highly organized and ruthless in their business of murder, human trafficking, and drug trafficking.
Vaughn says Las Vegas poses as an attractive geographical advantage for the gang's continuing expansion nationwide.
"They set up shop at Las Vegas a number of years ago during this national expansion that was directed by their leadership in El Salvador."
The gang itself becoming an issue during this tense mid-term election as a migrant caravan of asylum seekers marches toward America from Honduras.
Vaughn said, "The Trump Administration and many candidates are interested in letting the public know that they are working on it."
Nevada Senator Dean Heller has introduced a bill to crackdown on gangs including MS 13, the Criminal Alien Gang Removal Act.
Some criminal experts say the best way to rid MS-13 is by cracking down on their illegal immigration status.
"This is a problem that exists in part because of our failure to secure our borders and to enforce our immigration laws."
One mother knows only the pain of losing a son at the hands of MS-13.
Towery’s mother said, "You don't think it's going to happen to you but it can happen apparently to anybody."