Across the United States and in many countries, criminal gangs are a growing threat to the safety and prosperity of communities. President Trump has issued an executive order to strengthen efforts across the interagency to combat transnational criminal organizations, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has identified transnational gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (also known as MS-13) as a top enforcement priority. In Central America, particularly in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, gangs represent a severe threat to public security by engaging in a wide range of serious crimes including extortion, drug trafficking, and murder.
Because confronting these transnational threats requires international cooperation, INL organized a special event to showcase impactful gang prevention and enforcement measures at the United Nations’ 26th annual Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) on May 22 in Vienna, Austria. The standing-room-only event was hosted by Luis E. Arreaga, INL Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and attended by senior diplomats, academic experts, and civil society leaders. Featured speakers included police chiefs and gang advisors from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, who shared examples of INL-supported prevention initiatives to reduce gang involvement among youth populations in Northern Triangle countries, including education and athletic programming.