By Richard Valdemar
El Salvador's El Diario De Hoy newspaper announced on March 23 that the leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18 Street gangs in El Salvador had reached a truce. The gang leaders met to negotiate the peace in prisons located in Ciudad Barrios and Cojutepeque.
The talks leading to the proposed truce were facilitated and mediated by the Salvadorian government and the Catholic Church. The head of the army and police chaplain corps Monsignor Fabio Colindres said, "We never spoke of a negotiation between the government and the gangs, nor between the church and gangs." And "we were mediating an understanding between rival gangs to decrease the violence."
According to a recent U.N. report, El Salvador and Honduras have the greatest rate of homicide in the world, 66 per 100,000 inhabitants in El Salvador, and 82.1 per 100,000 in Honduras. Guatemala with a rate of 41 homicides per 100,000 makes up the third part of the Central American killing ground for these two murderous gangs.
The Salvadorian authorities facilitated the movement of the imprisoned rival gang members for the truce talks but were not directly involved in the negotiations.
Romero Henriquez represented the Mara Salvatrucha gang and Ernesto Mojica represented the Mara 18 (18th Street) gang. The El Diario newspaper claimed that it had confirmation of the truce from Ernesto Mojica and with half a dozen other gang leaders.
Judging from the general celebratory commentary from the clueless American media and the reaction from police commenters on the Worldwide Web, you might presume that this is a good thing. Excuse me good senors and monsignor, but I think this treaty is only good for the predatory gang monsters in and out of those Central American prisons; it can't be good for us.
For years racist Black leaders have attempted to unite Crip and Blood gang members in well publicized "peace treaties." And like the MS-13 and 18th Street treaty the media just ate it up. The original Crip-Blood treaties were financed by local drug dealers, facilitated by the Nation of Islam (NOI), and supported by local politicians. The Crip and Blood gang wars were bad for business and the truce allowed the dope trafficking to continue. It also meant that the bothersome police would concentrate their efforts somewhere else.
The Nation of Islam utilized the truce to recruit young men and women into their movement. The strong presence of the NOI's security force the Fruit of Islam (FOI), that mediated the gang truce, gave NOI and FOI street credentials with the community. However their real intent was to turn the gang hate and violence against the police. About the time of the 1992 Rodney King Riots the NOI circulated flyers in the Los Angeles projects calling for jihad against the LAPD.
The local Los Angeles politicians had no fraternal motivation either in supporting the Crip and Blood truce, they were just looking for photo opportunities to be seen shaking hands with African American gang members hoping to reap votes in the South Central L.A. communities. They hired gang members into their failed gang intervention programs and paid them with millions of taxpayer funds. But the truce and the programs all failed to make it safer in the L.A. Projects.
Even in the U.S. prison system these gang truces have been tried several times. They have all failed within a short time.
And thank God for that. Can you imagine what a gang formed from all aligned Crip and Blood gangs or between the Mexican Mafia and the Nuestra Familia might be capable of? No longer distracted by their war against their rival gangs, they could direct all their efforts into victimizing citizens, killing cops, and industrializing their drug production and distribution.
History backs me up. In August 1939, Russia and Nazi Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. This truce was a non-aggression pact that enabled both nations to invade Poland without fear that the other would attack them. Before this they were bitter enemies. Shortly afterward, the pact failed. But imagine what would have happened in World War II if Hitler hadn't attacked Russia. It's unlikely that the Western allies could have prevented Hitler from conquering Europe if his armies weren't committed to the Russian campaign.
In 1931, the Commission was formed in New York, the Commission was actually part of a peace plan or truce devised to end the Italian Mafia wars. The truce established a governing gang commission and divided the mob into five New York families; Luciano, Magano, Gagliano, Propaci, and Maranzano.
While this for a time reduced the number of "made men" murdered annually, it did not make New York a safer place. The man who brought the truce plan into being became one of the first victims of the commission. On Sept. 10, 1931, "Lucky" Luciano assumed leadership by murdering Salvatore Maranzano, the commission founder.
Today, an alliance between the two largest criminal transnational gangs in the world, Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street, could be a very dangerous thing in Central America and here in the United States. Members of both gangs have not signed truces with the government or with law enforcement. They will continue to traffic in drugs and humans, and they will continue to use violence against their victims. This truce will not reduce the violence it will merely redirect it.
All the experienced gang officers I've contacted agree that this truce will also soon fail. But well-intentioned people will continue to try to get these gangs to the peace table, and others will try to utilize a truce for their own political purposes.
As thinking citizens of a lawful government our goal should be, disrupting, dismantling and eradicating all criminal gangs, not brokering dialog and peace treaties between them. Gang truces can only make the task of ending criminal gangs more difficult.
This article was republished with permission by Police Magazine. Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs. His Gangs Blog can be found at: http://www.policemag.com/Blog/Gangs.aspx