Weekly InSight: Behind the Scenes of Our Investigation of MS13 in the Americas

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In our February 15 Facebook Live session, Co-Director Steven Dudley, Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos and Senior Editor Mike LaSusa took a behind-the-scenes look at a groundbreaking new investigation of the MS13 by InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American & Latino Studies.

Dudley and Silva, the report’s primary authors, explained how some of the main findings of their investigation challenge existing misperceptions about the gang, including those surrounding the structure of its hierarchy as well as its relationship to immigration flows and the international drug trade.

This article is the result of field work done for a multi-year research initiative evaluating the transnational criminal capacity of MS13 in the US and El Salvador by InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American & Latino Studies, with funding from the National Institute of Justice. See the full report here.

The authors also discussed challenges they faced in undertaking the investigation, as well as how their research shed light on divergent views of the gang held by law enforcement officials and individuals living in communities with a heavy gang presence.

Watch the full conversation below:

*American University’s Center for Latin American & Latino Studies is concluding a multi-year research initiative evaluating the transnational criminal capacity of MS13 in the US and El Salvador. For further information, go here. This project was supported by Award No. 2013-R2-CX-0048, by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.

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