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 @nicoleperlroth Go tell them Burger King is defecting to Canada to avoid paying US taxes--see how they respond.
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bmaz @johnson_carrie @joshgerstein @politico Good. Klayman is an idiot; he needs the help.
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bmaz The NFL isn't governed by rules. It's governed by Roger Goodell. http://t.co/XC0epCfTVV via the great @DLind
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bmaz RT @ddayen: Up @POLITICOMag: Teddy Roosevelt intervened 109 years ago to save the dying sport of football. Who will save it now? http://t.c…
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bmaz @ddayen @emptywheel Guess you need some kind of release after that sea of red in the Big Ute House yesterday.
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emptywheel @adammbaron But the president said it was ideal there.
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emptywheel @ddayen I was no longer there, either, to be honest.
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JimWhiteGNV US priorities in Syria shown Thurs: War $ -http://t.co/YiII3QtzMN No food $ - https://t.co/hHpThScDwA Starving civilians bombed=radicalized
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emptywheel @ddayen Tho I am beginning to wonder if the Jeffs could beat the hapless Wolverines.
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emptywheel @ddayen Double harrumph.
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emptywheel @ddayen Consider Amherst's approach to safety: Ensure no one is big enough or fast enough to do that damage (if so they'd play rugby)
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emptywheel @ddayen Harrumph. A historical football article w/no mention of either Lafayette/Lehigh or Amherst/Williams. Bah humbug.
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