Baton Roue, State Authorities Prepare to Battle Gangs in Louisiana - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Baton Roue, State Authorities Prepare to Battle Gangs in Louisiana

More than a dozen state and federal law enforcement agencies got together Thursday morning for what is considered to be one of the largest gang prevention efforts in the state. Topping the agenda: stopping the infiltration of the so called MS-13 crime gang into south Louisiana, a gang already known to be slowly building a base in New Orleans.

The Mara Salvatrucha gang, otherwise known as MS-13, is considered one of the most dangerous gangs in the U.S. with affiliations in 33 states. Authorities say there's good indication the prolific Latino gang has set it's eyes on planting roots here in south Louisiana.

This gang awareness seminar held at the Baton Rouge State Police headquarters focused on educating a number of law enforcement agencies on MS-13. Authorities say gang members are known for their elaborate tattoos, gory contract murders and drug trafficking.

They're also part of the 50,000 plus Latino workforce helping rebuild south Louisiana.

Though not formally organized in New Orleans yet, authorities believe with enough recruitment, it's only a matter of time before MS-13 becomes a permanent gang problem for Louisiana.

"We need to make sure every level of law enforcement knows what to look for," says U.S. Attorney David Dugas. "If they make a stop and encounter someone, they need to know what are the signs that let them know this person is a gang member."

Authorities tell 9 News MS-13 membership in the United States ranges between 8,000 and 10,000 individuals, and authorities say without an effort to stop them, that number rises everyday.

Reporter: Cyndi Nguyen cnguyen@wafb.com

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