The War on Terror-and-Drugs Turns Inward

The Treasury Department named the US-Central American gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) a Transnational Criminal Organization, meaning it can apply terrorist-type financial sanctions against the group and its members.

This strikes me as a worrying new precedent. Previously, Treasury had sanctioned Los Zetas, Brother’s Circle, the Camorra, and two Yakuza groups. While all operated in the US–Los Zetas has significant operations–MS-13 was first formed in the US, in Los Angeles, with close ties to El Salvador. Treasury says Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested 4,078 MS-13 gang members, so this affects a significant number of Americans.

In other words, this will repeat and probably escalate what we saw after 9/11–asset freezes of American citizens with little due process–in such a way that disproportionately affects one ethnic or religious group.

I also wonder whether this move intends to give additional legal cover for DEA’s operations in Central America–backed by Special Forces–particularly Honduras. At a time when many of the leaders of the countries that will be targeted are increasingly opposed to the war on drug, we’re ratcheting up the legal framework to make it look just like terrorism.

Maybe this is all very smart law enforcement. But it’s the creeping application of intelligence-based enforcement without much debate about whether such an approach infringes on Americans’ rights.

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10 Responses to The War on Terror-and-Drugs Turns Inward

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emptywheel RT @prisonculture: Man sues after Wisc. police come to his home, arrest him for calling them racists on Facebook http://t.co/Nlm2yMqJan
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emptywheel @xeni And did this happen while both of your were wearing doubled up hospital gowns and nothing else?
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emptywheel RT @ionacraig: Theresa May is gradually building a surveillance state in bite-sized chunks http://t.co/4eYp4bEYwy
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emptywheel RT @brooks_rosa: The Doormat Gets Shown the Door http://t.co/ptq22IQfoH
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bmaz @jakedimare Yeah, but that pornburger looks better. Pretty sick that it is 9:15 am and this is all I can think about now. Yikes.
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emptywheel @AlexanderAbdo That's what I was thinking. @OrinKerr @normative @csoghoian
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bmaz @jakedimare Oops, here is the link! http://t.co/WVZD6pGj8d
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emptywheel @JesselynRadack Maybe he can start by stopping FBI's reclassification. https://t.co/D6tICmRJ8N
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