New York federal agents have had to double their efforts to break up ties between local street gangs and powerful Mexican drug trafficking organisations, the New York Daily News reports.ICE agents in New York spent more than 30,000 hours investigating drug cartel networks in 2010, up from just 13,472 hours in 2009. Extra agents have been added in the past few years to deal with the increased threat from Mexican crime gangs.
“We spent those hours investigating the violent, transnational street gang members who are now working closely with sophisticated drug-trafficking organisations,” James Hayes, special agent in charge of New York homeland security investigations, told the Daily News. “We see more and more a correlation between Mexican drug organisations and gangs here in New York.”
Local gangs with cartel links include the Latin Kings and MS 13, a branch of El Salvador’s brutal Mara Salvatrucha gang that is allied with Los Zetas, a powerful paramilitary cartel.
While street gangs in border states like Texas and California have had links to drug traffickers for many years, the growing problem in New York shows how deeply Mexico’s cartel networks have penetrated illegal drug markets in the U.S.