WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Treasury Department Thursday designated the violent Central American gang MS-13 as a transnational criminal organization.
The step allows the group Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 to be subjected to a range of economic sanctions, officials said.
MS-13 is the first group to be added since President Obama signed an executive order on sanctioning international crime groups in 2011. The order designated four groups as transnational criminal organizations: the Brothers' Circle, an international drug gang run by a Russian, the Camorra headquartered in Naples, the Japanese Yakuza and the Mexican Zetas drug cartel.
"MS-13 is an extremely violent and dangerous gang responsible for a multitude of crimes that directly threaten the welfare and security of U.S. citizens, as well as countries throughout Central America," Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said.
Investigators say MS-13 has about 30,000 members in Mexico and Central America. The group is believed to have 8,000 members in the United States.