This Note discusses the dramatic proliferation of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) over the last two decades, primarily focusing on the efforts of the United States and El Salvador to bring the notorious MS-13 to justice. The United States’ deportation policy in the mid-1990s and its impact on the presence of MS-13 in El Salvador and the United States set the backdrop for an analysis of the current weapons available to combat the gang’s transnational threat. As the international implications of MS-13’s actions expanded in the late 1990s, the United States and El Salvador began to charter a number of bilateral and multilateral law enforcement initiatives to address the issue. This Note examines how the antiquated structure and underlying substantive law of the United States–El Salvador Extradition Treaty threaten the progress made by these initiatives, evaluates the United States’ current attempt to address this threat through the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and suggests a means to overcome an additional barrier to extradition created by El Salvador’s constitutional ban on life imprisonment.
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