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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Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel RT @TimothyS: BAE buys IN-Q-TEL funded imagery and analytic company, firming up its intel ops. http://t.co/onrzEPCYpt
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emptywheel RT @mollyknefel: Misdemeanor arrests under de Blasio are higher than Bloomberg, with same racial disparity (86% black or Latino) http://t.c…
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emptywheel According to CIA Inspector General David Buckley, David Buckley didn't mean David Buckley's criminal referral to DOJ http://t.co/ThMsontX2z
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emptywheel @nickmanes1 It? You can get them all in one place without having to walk between gorges?
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emptywheel @nickmanes1 You gonna do it? It'd make a great storify if we cut it off before you exploded.
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emptywheel @sanasaleem "can" someone? Yup. But it'll get you branded a terrorist and jailed for decades.
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emptywheel RT @SAI: Google is taking apart its mystery barge that was going to be used for selling Google Glass http://t.co/OPlWfXt9wl
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JimWhiteGNV @bmaz @trog69 GNP had three versions when we bought. These were mid-price. Cat included for size reference. http://t.co/HOyOcpxLFE
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emptywheel Paul Ryan is lucky Eric Cantor exists to distract people from the fact he's almost as big of a clown.
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bmaz @JimWhiteGNV @trog69 Huh, just did little reading on GNP. Interesting! Looks interesting. Send me a picture of them, curious what look like
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emptywheel I learn from this Daily Beast article that John McCain is a Democrat. http://t.co/a9gGJYABms
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