BILOXI, Miss. _ Thousands of Hispanics migrated to South Mississippi to help in the recovery effort after Hurricane Katrina, but others came as associates of the Mexican Mafia to set up criminal networks that would benefit organized crime, authorities said.
"Since the influx of a large number of Hispanics, particularly Mexicans, relocating to Jackson County, there has been an increase in Mexican-American gang and drug trafficking organizations," FBI special agent Tye Breedlove told the Sun Herald. "Most of these Mexican immigrants are good, hardworking, law-abiding people. However, some ... have a history of involvement in drug trafficking and other criminal activity.
"They, therefore, bring to the Mississippi Gulf Coast a network of connections to the Mexican Mafia, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations and Colombian drug-trafficking organizations based in Houston, the Texas-Mexico border and in Mexico."
Formed as a prison gang in the 1950s in the California penal system, the Mexican Mafia is an organized-crime group whose hierarchy is patterned after that of the Italian Mafia or La Cosa Nostra, the FBI said.
The Mexican Mafia has expanded over the years to include members at almost every federal and state prison in the United States. The group was formed, Breedlove said, as a way "to promote ethnic solidarity, provide protection from rival gangs and to generate money from criminal operations such as drug and gun trafficking."
Since Katrina, federal agents and local law enforcement officials have confirmed the presence of Mexican Mafia members and their associates in South Mississippi.
Read the full story at sunherald.com.