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 Twitterverse
JimWhiteGNV Actually, it's about ethics in Ebola precautions.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @AdamWeinstein: FSU student officer says student body president & VP (both frat leaders) physically intimidated her into resigning http:…
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JimWhiteGNV Fine print of Maine court order says Kaci Hickox must display large scarlet E on all clothing.
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bmaz Looks like the Hoke-y Pokey dance is about over for the Michigan Men. (h/t @PhilPerspective)
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bmaz RT @McMurphyESPN: Dave Brandon is resigning as Michigan’s AD, source told @ESPN. Press conference this afternoon
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JimWhiteGNV RT @adamsmithtimes: Fla's 'Cocaine Congressman' Radel has record expunged http://t.co/YpfL7sAb3P
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JimWhiteGNV Is that as bad as electing a torturer to Congress? MT @AllenWest: Continuing stupidity; we release GITMO detainees who then join ISIS. #tcot
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emptywheel @Laurapitter Couldn't get Gul Rahman's testimony, or Manadel al-Jamadi's. @charlie_savage @joshgerstein @Krhawkins5
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JimWhiteGNV RT @carolrosenberg: Update: #USMC attorney sees no "legitimate reason" to censor guard gender, takes swipe at #Gitmo court transparency. ht…
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bmaz @imillhiser @JoshMBlackman @TPM @sahilkapur Yeah, I am not seeing that after Noel Canning. Plus Obama not that in your face aggressive.
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