Activities of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS) gang in Nezahualcoyotl and across the country; the extent of the MS presence and efforts by the government to combat the illegal activities of this gang (January-November 2004) [MEX43176.E]

According to a number of news sources, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS) is a youth gang that was originally based in Central American countries such as El Salvador and Honduras and whose presence is increasing in Mexico in 2004 (IPS 17 Feb. 2004; El Sur 2 Apr. 2004; El Universal 4 Apr. 2004; La Jornada 12 Nov. 2004). Involved mainly in organized crime activities such as drug and arms trafficking, robbery, and prostitution (El Universal 4 Apr. 2004; IPS 17 Feb. 2004), the MS has also been linked to violent crimes such as homicide and rape (ibid.). Country Reports 2003, for instance, noted that MS gang members have reportedly robbed, killed and raped migrants entering Mexico from the south (25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 2.d). With regard to their increased presence, the Federal Attorney General's Office (Procuraduria General de la Republica, PGR) described the MS as "a growing organized crime phenomenon" (El Universal 4 Apr. 2004).

While reports demonstrate that MS activities are centred mainly in the south-eastern state of Chiapas (Es Mas 26 Oct. 2004; La Cronica de Hoy 17 Apr. 2004; Todito 24 June 2004), two sources also mentioned that the MS has spread to a total of eight states (Cimacnoticias 6 Jan. 2004; IPS 17 Feb. 2004). The Mexico City newspaper El Universal, citing a report compiled by the PGR, noted that the MS was present in the state of Chiapas, Tabasco, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, Tamaulipas and Mexico (4 Apr. 2004). In August 2004, the Federal Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha added the state of Yucatan and the Federal District to the list of states where the MS gang had been detected (El Regional del Sur 13 Aug. 2004). By November 2004, two news sources reported that the MS gang was operating in Jalisco, Baja California Norte, Quintana Roo and Campeche (La Jornada 12 Nov. 2004; Excelsior 2 Nov. 2004). The Mexico City newspaper Excelsior also mentioned that MS gang leaders had been reportedly meeting with drug cartel members in the northern states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Baja California and Jalisco (ibid.).

With regard to the municipality of Nezahualcoyotl, located in the state of Mexico on the outskirts of the Federal District, two news sources reported on incidents involving suspected members of the MS (El Universal 12 Feb. 2004; La Crisis 3 Feb. 2004). In a 3 February 2004 news article, the chief of the Federal District's preventive police force, Marcelo Ebrard, acknowledged that MS cells (celulas) could be operating in the border zone of Nezahualcoyotl, state of Mexico and Iztapalapa, Federal District (ibid.). In another February 2004 story, the Federal District preventive police force was investigating a group of 50 Central American youths suspected of being MS members in the outskirts of the Federal District bordering the municipality of Nezahualcoyotl (El Universal 12 Feb. 2004).

Government efforts to combat the MS gang

A number of news stories of 2004 reported on government efforts to combat the growing MS presence (IPS 17 Feb. 2004; El Universal 4 Apr. 2004; Es Mas 11 Oct. 2004; ACAN-EFE 13 Nov. 2004). In February 2004, the IPS reported that the federal government's National Security and Investigation Centre (Centro de Investigacion y Seguridad Nacional, CISEN) would monitor MS activities (17 Feb. 2004). An El Universal article of April 2004 noted that a security plan involving municipal, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the Federal District and the urban areas in the state of Mexico had been developed to address the MS problem (4 Apr. 2004). According to the Mexican news agency Notimex reporting on the news Website Es Mas, in October 2004, Mexico and Guatemala agreed to reactivate the collaborative High-Level Border Security Group (Grupo de Alto Nivel de Seguridad Fronteriza, GANSEF) to address the border security concerns such as the MS (11 Oct. 2004). In November 2004, ACAN-EFE reported that Mexico has established two police detachments to combat the MS gang in Chiapas and Mexico City (13 Nov. 2004).

La Jornada reported that anti-maras (anti-gang) police operations in the past year had resulted in the capture of some 300 gang members and the dismantling of six Mara bases of operation (12 Nov. 2004). In November 2004, reports of arrests and deportations of suspected MS members and undocumented migrants continued (FBIS Report 5 Nov. 2004; ibid. 23 Nov. 2004; ibid. 25 Nov. 2004). In addition, anti-maras operations in Chiapas were apparently being carried out by state-level police agencies and federal entities such as the CISEN and the National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migracion, INM) (FBIS Report 25 Nov. 2004; ibid. 23 Nov. 2004; ibid. 5 Nov. 2004). For example, in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, an additional 100 officers from the state-level police force, with army support, were deployed for anti-mara operations (ibid. 23 Nov. 2004).

For background information about the MS gang, please see HND41103.E of 10 March 2003 about the MS gang in Honduras and SLV39868.E of 19 February 2003 about the MS in El Salvador.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


ACAN-EFE. 13 November 2004. Adriana Lopez. "Mexican President Fox Pledges To Take in More Imports From Central America." (FBIS-LAT-2004-1113 15 Nov. 2004/WNC)

Cimacnoticias. 6 January 2004. "Adolescente mexicano asesinado por la Mara Salvatrucha." [Accessed 24 Nov. 2004]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. "Mexico." United States Department of State, Washington, DC. [Accessed 29 Nov. 2004]

La Crisis [Mexico City]. 3 February 2004. Jorge Lopez Fuentes. "Si hay celulas de la Mara Salvatrucha: Ebrard. Desmiente al procurador capitalino." [Accessed 24 Nov. 2004]

La Cronica de Hoy [Mexico City]. 17 April 2004. "Asalto de 'Mara Salvatrucha' en Mexico deja cuatro heridos." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2004]

Es Mas. 26 October 2004. Julio Navarro Cardenas. "Detienen a lider de la Mara Salvatrucha." [Accessed 24 Nov. 2004]

____. 11 October 2004. "Reactivan seguridad fronteriza Mexico-Guatemala." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2004]

Excelsior [Mexico City]. 2 November 2004. Roberto Melendez. "Los encuentros, en estados del norte + Mara Salvatruchas se unen a narcos en Mexico." [Accessed 24 Nov. 2004]

FBIS Report. 25 November 2004. "Highlights: Mexico Crime and Narcotics Issues 25 Nov 04." (FBIS-LAT-2004-1125 26 Nov. 2004/WNC)

____. 23 November 2004. "Highlights: Mexico Crime and Narcotics Issues 23 Nov 04." (FBIS-LAT-2004-1123 24 Nov. 2004/WNC)

____. 5 November 2004. "Highlights: Mexico Crime and Narcotics Issues 5 Nov 04." (FBIS-LAT-2004-1105 8 Nov. 2004/WNC)

Inter Press Service (IPS). 17 February 2004. Diego Cevallos. "Central America: Violent Gang Grows to 300,000 Members." (Google cache) [Accessed 24 Nov. 2004]

La Jornada [Mexico City]. 12 November 2004. Juan Balboa. "En ascenso, la presencia de maras salvatruchas en territorio mexicano." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2004]

El Regional del Sur [Cuernavaca]. 13 August 2004. Francisco Javier Rendon. "Temen ingreso de la Mara Salvatrucha a Morelos." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2004]

El Sur [Acapulco]. 2 April 2004. "Las 'leyes anti maras' aumentarian la presencia de pandilleros en Chiapas: INM." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2004]

Todito. 24 June 2004. "Detienen a presuntos maras en Chiapas." [Accessed 24 Nov. 2004]

El Universal [Mexico City]. 4 April 2004. Francisco Gomez. "Rising 'Mara' Presence Causes Alarm at PGR." [Accessed 24 Nov. 2004]

____. 12 February 2004. Icela Lagunas and Claudia Bolanos. "Rastrean a 'maras' en DF; los busca policia especial." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch.