How Much Of A Threat Is MS-13 In Texas?

MS-13, a hyper-violent gang, is at the center of a new litmus test in U.S. politics. How much of a threat does the gang really pose here?

By Jill AmentJuly 17, 2018 1:13 pm

Federal law enforcement officials indicted several alleged members of the highly publicized gang MS-13 last weekend. In trumpeting the arrests, an official told reporters MS-13 is one of the “most violent and ruthless gangs on the streets today.”

But MS-13 presence in Texas isn’t exactly large. According to a gang threat assessment report released by the Texas Department of Public Safety last summer, while MS-13 is still considered a “high threat,” its membership has dwindled down to around 500.

So how big of a problem is MS-13 causing in Texas?

Mitchell Roth is a professor of criminal justice and criminology at Sam Houston State University, specializing in organized crime and gangs. In this segment, he speaks to the Texas Standard about:

– How big MS-13 is in Texas

– The political dimensions of addressing MS-13, which is often singled out by the Trump administration

– Whether there are larger, more organized gangs in Texas law enforcement officials should be more concerned about

Clarification: An earlier version of this story referred to MS-13 as a “gang from Central America.” MS-13 originated in Los Angeles.