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 RT @texasinafrica: This whole situation is so infuriating. Politics trump public health, fear wins out over science & reason.
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bmaz So, today @ESPN has had on air Frank Caliendo and Jon Gruden. Two of the worst people in human history at their jobs. Why is that so @ESPN?
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bmaz The Decline and Fall of the Bo Merlot Empire https://t.co/cJVxsDV434 … A major college football program that is toast, pasta its prime
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bmaz So @emptywheel says Pack gonna eat it in NOLA. I say RELAX...Aaron Rodgers has this. So, what sayeth professional sports reporter @erinscafe
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bmaz Uh Texas Dead Raider people, TCU has scored 82 POINTS on you. In a football game. Maybe you should send people on the field for defense?
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JimWhiteGNV Awesome! We got a table in the van tonight @satchelspizza http://t.co/9uYlcVKkL9
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JimWhiteGNV Hanging out in the gift shop @satchelspizza waiting for a table. Is it time for some enlightenment on a spring? http://t.co/m7wSZoVA0W
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emptywheel @B_D_Silver Stickum failure ends it.
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JimWhiteGNV Dak Prescott is a beast.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @DokteCoffee: To clarify.Ebola: No symptoms, no risk. Few symptoms, only a little risk. Very sick, oh-so-infectious. Risk, then, is to h…
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JimWhiteGNV RT @texasinafrica: Appalling behavior by New Jersey officials. Way to disincentivize health workers traveling to fight Ebola. http://t.co/c
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JimWhiteGNV @cherylrofer Yeah, but that's where the bad quarantines are, too.
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