October 19, 2009 – 11 am PST – www.latalkradio.com
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Guest: Samuel Logan
Samuel Logan is an investigative reporter based in Latin America. For the past five years, he has reported on gang activity across the United States, Mexico, and Central America. Mr. Logan’s work has attracted the attention of private intelligence companies and other organizations that maintain open channels of dialogue with him about all matters pertaining to security in Latin America and how it affects security in the United States.
In THIS IS FOR THE MARA SALVATRUCHA: Inside the MS-13, America’s Most Violent Gang investigative journalist Samuel Logan offers the first English-language profile of a group the FBI calls “the fastest growing and most violent gang in the country.” Formed by Salvadoran immigrants on the rough streets of Los Angeles in the 1980s, the Mara Salvatrucha—or MS-13—has now grown to more than 60,000 members worldwide. The FBI has created a special task force to curb its expansion, something it has never done before, even for high-profile gangs like the Bloods, the Crips, and the Mexican Mafia. Despite such efforts, though, the MS-13 continues to grow, seeping deeper into the neighborhoods of America and bringing with it violence, extortion, fear, and crime.
THIS IS FOR THE MARA SALVATRUCHA follows the tragic story of one MS-13 member, a charismatic Honduran-American teenager named Brenda Paz. Brenda became a “jumped in” member of the gang at age fifteen, lured by the camaraderie of members and the excitement of street life. She witnessed and helped to commit many crimes, and was arrested at sixteen in connection with a robbery. Eager to escape the brutality she had begun to encounter so regularly, Brenda began sharing her knowledge of the gang with authorities. Her inside accounts of the MS-13’s most violent acts, private traditions, and secret symbols were thorough and invaluable to officials. But the Mara Salvatrucha has rules, and despite being in the FBI’s Witness Protection Program, Brenda was found dead within a year.
While other reporters have focused on the horrifying circumstances of Brenda’s murder—she was 17, pregnant, and killed by her boyfriend—Logan provides an in-depth portrait of this fascinating young woman and her life in the gang. He interviewed all the key players in Brenda’s last years of life, including her loving family, fellow MS-13 members, the law enforcement officers and lawyers who tried to help Brenda escape the gang, and the families of the victims of the gang’s violence. The result is a compelling and frightening narrative that delves deeper into the MS-13 than any book has before and offers a potent warning against the seductions and dangers of gang life.
Beyond illuminating Brenda’s story, Logan also sheds light on important issues for America’s growing Latino population, touching on effects of immigration, deportation, and the daily realities of at-risk and underserved youths in the immigrant community. He can speak to:
- United States Immigration policy in recent years, particularly the effects of aggressive deportation
- The appeal of the gang lifestyle and how we can help at-risk youths escape the temptation
- The structure of the MS-13 and the threat it poses in this country and others
- Drug and arms trafficking and associated violence on the U.S.-Mexico border
- Law enforcement efforts to contain and prevent gang activity
- How and why Hispanic street gangs have grown into international crime organizations
- The immigrant experience in this country and ways in which our police and justice systems serve and disserve immigrants.