neoliberal seCuriTysCapes introDuction
It’s the most violent gang in America . . . It has 10,000 foot
soldiers in the U.S., spreading its brutal ways across 33
states . . . And now it’s going international, fueled by mi-
gration across the Western hemisphere, leaving its bloody
mark from Central [America] to the American heartland . . .
Police in a half- dozen countries struggle to crack its code
and decipher its methods.
—World’s Most Dangerous Gang (documentary)
On February 5, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales of the United States
and President Elias Antonio Saca of El Salvador announced a new collabora-
tive effort to combat the gang La Mara Salvatrucha (MS) and the 18th Street
Gang. This effort, named the Transnational Anti- Gang Unit (TAG), would
be made up of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of State,
and El Salvador’s National Civil Police, along with an “embedded” prosecu-
tor from the Salvadoran attorney general’s office. It would also facilitate the
efficient implementation of CAFÉ (the Central American Fingerprinting Ex-
ploitation initiative). The day after TAG was announced, the chiefs of police
for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize met in Los Angeles to draft
a proposal for the third annual International Gang Conference in San Salva-
dor. The same year, the federal Interagency Task Force on Gangs (comprised
of governmental officials from five agencies including the departments of
Homeland Security, Defense, State, and Justice, together with the United
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