Mara Salvatrucha, a widespread mostly Salvadoran gang seen by some as a rival in violence to the Mexican Mafia, is now believed to have ties to al-Qaeda.

“They’re out to make a name for themselves. They’re basically into anything,” says Sgt. Dionisio Cortez, a former Los Angeles-area cop who now serves as an educator for the south Texas gang task force. “They’re into smuggling humans. They’re into smuggling narcotics. They’re into killing people for any little reason. They’re very ruthless.”

FBI Agent Pat Patterson says although the agency has not found concrete evidence that Mara Salvatrucha is in contact with the Middle Eastern terrorist organization al-Qaeda, he says agents are on the lookout, especially along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Patterson says the gang is interested in money, not terrorism. But that doesn’t necessarily rule out a terrorist connection to Mara Salvatrucha. “The question we have is what will they do to make that money,” Patterson says.
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