tv Washington Journal Jose Miguel Cruz Discusses Transnational Gangs CSPAN August 6, 2017 10:33pm-11:01pm EDT
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jose mcgill crews. from washington journal, this is about 25 minutes. >> what is ms 13 and how did it get its name? that: ms-13 is a gang started in southern california in the early 1980's. it was originally formed by immigrants coming to the united the civileing from war in central america. these gangs started in the city and then expanded to central america. many of the people who formed ms-13 went back to el salvador thee they grew up in
1990's, especially in the 2000's. and then we have ms-13 mostly in el salvador, honduras and guatemala and we have some cells of ms-13 here in the united states. it's a youth gang. it's a street gang that has grown significantly in the last 20, 25 years. host: how big is it? guest: well, there are no set numbers on these. the fewest that we have is for instance, in central america around 100,000 gang members, only in central america. in the united states, the numbers are smaller. members, only in central america. in the united states, the numbers are smaller. the united states numbers go from 10,000 to 15,000 across the united states. so the biggest problem on ms-13 is in central america, especially in countries such as el salvador and honduras. host: how many cells here in the
u.s.? guest: we don't know exactly how many cells. and actually, ms-13 is not an old american city. it's only in some big cities, especially in l.a., in some cities in virginia and new york. i will say that less than 1,000 cells. host: what do they do? what are their crimes? guest: well, these are as i said before, this is a youth gang. in the case of central america, they tend to be a very violent and brutal gang. maim,- these people kill, rape, criminal activities. basically, they get most of their money from extorting the population from trafficking drugs at their neighborhood level. but the main source of their
money is ex storgs. and they basically establish these networks of extortion against the population, especially against the poor population where the communities, they control in honduras, guatemala, el alvador. kay came here in the united states is a little bit different. in some part, it is very brutal, very violent. but they have not been able to establish the control in american cities in the way they have in el salvador or in honduras. host: what does the m.s. stand for? a group . stands for of folks, a group of people and
the s is a slang for sal donors. so smart salvadorans. host: last week, the president spoke about ms-13 and here's what he had to say. president trump: think of this. ms-13 gang members have brutally murdered 17 beautiful young lives in this area on long island alone. think of it. they butchered those little girls. they kidnap. they extort. hey rape and they rob. they beat them with clubs. they slash them with machetes. and they stab them with knives. they have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into blood stained
killing fields. they're animals. e cannot tolerate as a society this spilling of innocent, young , would feel, vibrant people. sons and daughters. even husbands and wives. we cannot accept this violence one day more. can't do it. and we're not going to do it because of you, we're not going to be able to do it. you're not going to allow to it happen and we're backing you up 100%. remember that. [applause] president trump: 100%. president trump: it is the policy of this administration to dismantle, decimate and
eradicate ms-13 at every other -- and i have to say -- ms-13, that's a name, rough groups, that's fine. we got a lot of others. and they're all led in here over a relatively short period of time. not during my period of time. believe me. but we're getting them out. they're going to jails. and then they're going back to their country or they go back to their country period. one by one, we're liberating our american towns. host: jose miguel cruz of florida international university . does the president seem to understand this in your view? guest: i don't think so in the sense that these zpwang and many other national gangs started in the united states. i agree with the president when he says that we have to eradicate these gangs but we need to eradicate these gangs working in the communities that
-- where they are started. and these gangs actually started in southern california and as i said early in the 1980's. so we need focus on those places in which this gang started. certainly, this gang has grown. they have expanded. they are based operations i central america. but most of the reasons why we have people joining these gangs are reasons that have to do with the local conditions. reason that they have to do with the way the community works. we need work with the community in order to fight about the gangs and talk about the gangs. so it is very important to send an order to fight against ms-13. we need to work with our communities here instead of basically pointing to immigration and other places. host: well, let's take some calls. let's hear from our viewers. the numbers are on our screen
divided by region. everett in dallas, texas. please go ahead. caller: oh, thank you. yes. i am actually from el salvador. now, i'm a citizen. and i think that donald trump is right on this because there's a lot of people that commit crimes back in el salvador and what they do and these are crime members and these are bad people come into the states. and what they do is they -- they are wanted in el salvador and then they are coming to the states living in our neighborhoods. people like --ot [indiscernible] this is all the people that the gang members, all the lie and . w they are here in the state
something has to be done because i know like two weeks ago, there was a case where a guy was wanted in el salvador for four crimes that he committed. i think he killed three people and he was -- i think it was maryland somewhere. and then he was deported back to el salvador. this is a big problem. host: thank you, everett, in dallas. dr. cruz? guest: i agree. this is a big problem. and some of them have a problem with immigration, certainly. but most of the gangs who have participated in all these violent acts here in the united states are people who join the gangs here. and many of them were born and raised here. i think it's very important to separate, i mean, those facts in which we have people coming from
other countries. not all of them are gang members. and from those gangs who basically were born and raised here and join the gangs here and they are -- there are lots of these names, ms-13, just to attract some attention. as i said before, certainly, they are violent. they are brutal. but we need to really understand what is happening in our communities in order to tackle them in the right way. host: chris from kentucky. please go ahead. caller: yes, sir. anything the police force do with ms-13. if you get in trouble in tennessee, they give them guns, cars, anything they like and in clark county, indiana. they to the same thing. [indiscernible] there are meme went missing.
and the f.b.i. done the same thing. they'll give them citizenship, weapons. and in the neighbors, people were disappearing. it was unbelievable. but if you work for them and they take their citizenship and all that kinds of stuff. it is unbelievable. host: any comments for that caller, professor cruz? guest: just want -- what is important in the fight against ms-13 and against the gangs is police intelligence. and the community work with the police. in those cases in which the police and the f.b.i. and authorities have been successful fighting ms-13 is because they have worked with the community and they have in the community basically have held the police o identify these gangs and the
person who are committing all these crimes. so we need the community and we need the police to work with the community in order to prevent and to fight these problems. host: let's hear from pat in wisconsin. hi, pat. caller: hi, good morning. tanks for taking my call. mr. cruz, is it just -- i have a controversial point of view on this. but from what i understand, the best way to cut down on gang activity is to legalize marijuana and then it cuts down on the incentive and they just dissolve. thank you. guest: well, it depends on the gangs. not all gangs are in the marijuana business. certainly, there are some people who believe that legalizing marijuana will help, basically, to take out all the incentives. all the criminal incentives for these type of groups. but it depends on the gang.
as far as we know, ms-13, they might be involving some local drug trafficking activities but i don't think that the legalization of marijuana, in the case of ms-13 will make that an important difference. i think what is important in the look run is to -- long run is to discuss other drug policy in general. whether they approach of the war on drugs have been successful. we have many years and decades at this point with the war on drugs. and we are not winning the war on drugs, especially because we have a serious problem here in the united states. we have a serious problem in latin america on the war on drugs. and we still have many people -- actually, we have even more people dying out of drug consumption now that we have in the past. so something certainly has failed. and we need to put on the table
the discussion of the war on drugs and the right policies to deal with these problems. host: page from van nuys, california. please go ahead with your question or comment about ms-13. we're listening. caller: good morning. good morning. i spent 20 years with the los angeles police department. gang activity is a branch of economic needs. and what i've learned of two decades with the los angeles police department is that no minority groups in this country has a factory to manufacture drugs. no minority in this country has land to grow drugs. no minority in this country owns helicopters, boats, airplanes, to bring it to this country. i've grown tired of the quote "war on drugs" term. this stuff is brought here and then this country says oh, now that we brought it here, we've messed up everybody's minds, mainly in the black and brown
community and poor communities. and now let's have a war on it. technically, a war against themselves. poor people don't bring it here. they don't transport it here. they don't have the money to transport it here. but every time i turn on the news, i see someone like yourself speaking of it albeit intellectually in this particular show. but let's go back to the genesis of it. why is it many this country? let's not talk about the poor people that have been paid to distribute it. and let's in the focus on them. there's millions of people that sell drugs. so why don't we discuss how it gets to this country? host: all right, paige, thank you very much. professor cruz? guest: yeah, the caller has made a great point in the sense that the problems of drug trafficking, the problems of gangs, the problems of violence
in many of our communities have to do with the -- how to do with the way these communities have to face the lack of opportunities, the lack of jobs, the lack of our economic opportunities overall. so to the extent that we do not raise these kinds of problems ere locally, the caller says many of these problems come from the lack of opportunity, the lack of all the economic situation we are facing in some of the -- some of our community here in the united states. so to the extent that we can work in this community to help the people, to find jobs, to have opportunities, i think we will do a better job of fighting gangs and fighting their problems of drug trafficking in
the united states. host: let's hear from gill from port arthur, texas, on our independent line. caller: good morning, gentlemen. thanks for taking my call. i was watching the segment before your guests came on and the optics are just awful. you have a picture of the president with a bunch of ang long low saxon people and when he collapse, he has the white gloves. i don't see no minority and no hispanic people. and that's the thing. like the commenter said earlier. the problem is not a mexican problem. ms-13. you know, you don't hear anything about asian driving gangs. so their segment about what used to be in the bloods and the cripts. something in the segment i saw a long time ago. the problem is the power that be
at the top of the pyramid, about money, about power. and when you start taking those people out that are corrupt, then mainly the money won't be -- the incentive won't be there for poor groups to strive and struggle to try to -- you know, just take out the gentleman those was arrested a while back. what was his name? in mexico, in this poor country, he was considered a hero. so you have to think these poor people are trying to struggle to get ahead. like the gentleman said on nbc a long time ago. kill the powers that be at the top. and go after it, you know, a big circle and not just single out one group and then you will have something. but the war on drugs, you were talking about it we're winning. then you change it and say we got all these other problems. now you're losing and it's
opioid problem. it's ludicrous what's going on. good day. host: all right, gil in port arthur, texas. any response for him, jose miguel cruz? guest: yes. i think the caller has addressed two sides of this problem that's very important. first, ms-13 and this type of gang proliferated and expanded in central america because of -- and this means corruption. this is the high levels of corruption in the central american government basically help this gangs to expand and to become what they are now. and we need to tackle that too. i mean, why? because a lot of people are fleeing these countries in the same way that they're fleeing the country for years ago. there is a sort of informal war going on in central america in
part because this government have been completely unable to tackle the ms-13 in this gang because some of them have benefits from the expansion on ms-13. so it's very important that the united states help these countries, not only to fight ms-13 but to find the incredibly high levels of corruption that we have in this country, especially in the guatemala and el salvador. these are side that we need to address. and secondly, in referring to the police, it is very important provide n, that we other resources the police to make their job. and this means also working with the community. this means that the police will get closer to those communities that are facing these problem of
ms-13. going to be able to do this to the extent that basically we just target and criminalize these communities. we need their communities to work with the police, to work with the f.b.i., to work with authorities in order to fight this gang. ost: a tweet that reporting of ms-13 has dropped with areas of undocumented immigrants. they are afraid they will be removed by i.c.e. guest: exactly. that's part of the problem. and this can even become a greater problem. why? because in those communities in which the people will not trust the police, out of fear that the police will come and take not only the gangs, but will take some of their recommended relatives, they will stop reporting to the police.
and once they stop reporting to the police, you basically are putting the grounds to the expansion of the gang in those communities. and even worse, in some cases, and we have seen these in other countries when people stop reporting to the police and they feel that they cannot trust the police to fight this criminal organization, what they end up doing is turning to other criminal organizations to fight their original threat. so what's going to happen if we go on this route? probably is that some of this communities instead of going to the police will go to another gangnal group, let's say a cartel, a drug cartel, another organization in order to fight ms-13. why? because they are not going to go to the police. so that's why i'm insisting that it is very important that the police work with the community and to generate trust in the
community for the police. host: jose miguel cruz, you lived in el salvador for several years, didn't you? guest: yes. host: what did you do down there? guest: well, i was director of research institute at the university of central america for some years. and we started actually, we started studying ms-13 down there in el salvador and we saw how ms-13 at the beginning were just a bunch of kids, you know, like any other corner gang in the world and how they evolve to become these powerful organization because the governments were unable, i'm sorry, to fight ms-13 the right way. basically, what they did, the governments in el salvador is very similar to what trump is doing right now. just criminalizing the communities in which these gangs live and then the communities
basically community stops trusting the police and they turn to these organizations. host: highest murder rate, or one of the highest in the world, correct? salvador fory, el ofrs have had a murder rate 100 homicides per 100,000 people. that is the highest in the western hemisphere, when at the highest in the world. idea iniewers have an the united states the national about four pers 100,000. host: miguel cruz is t
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