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The border between Guatemala and Chiapas has become a hotbed for Central American gang warfare. The gangs battle over position in Mexico, while their main goal is to infiltrate the United States.

In this special investigative report, Mariela Salgado and cameraman Kelvin Charles, follow an armed anti-gang raid conducted by the local authorities. She also interviews officials, the families of the victims and a former gang member who now fears for her life.

The news correspondent gained exclusive access to the maximum-security prison, CERESO, in Tapachula, Chiapas.

She interviews the leader of a gang, known as “Barrio 18”, in the common areas of the prison and speaks candidly to the convict without any restrictions.

APRIL 2005

Gangs are linked to thousands of terrible assassinations, organized crime, and now an even grimmer realization: that they are possibly working directly with terrorists groups like Al Qaeda.

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) gang, originated in El Salvador, has a network that extends to several states in the United States. They use Chiapas, Mexico as a bridge to reach U.S. soil and recruit more members, mostly teenagers. The gang phenomenon is no longer a Central American issue, but a regional problem. Security agencies in the United States are on alert and are taking action to confront the problem.

Mariela Salgado and her Sin Fronteras team traveled to the streets of Pico Union, in Los Angeles, to return to the area where over 20 years ago, Mara Salvatrucha was born.

People in the neighborhood of Pico Union live in fear. The reporter searched for answers to tell all sides of the story. She also interviewed the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) as well as the feared gang members of the MS 13.  

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