Suspected MS 13 Member in Lake Charles

May 31, 2007

Reported By: Natalie Grise

On a routine immigration check at a Greyhound bus station, Border Patrol agents found something that was anything but ordinary.

"We were actually surprised," says Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Joel Colletti, "this is the last thing we were looking for."

A nervous demeanor, baggy clothes, and distinctive tattoos caught the agents' eyes, but a series of lies caught their attention.

"He tried to claim he was a juvenile, then he tried to say the tattoos were from a prank," says Colletti, "everything to deny he's a gang member but his history shows different."

Arrested for a variety of violent crimes, more than just Adolfo Rodas Cruz's appearance fits the description of a typical MS 13 member.

"These people are after anyone that crosses their path if you try to stop them they will turn violent immediately. They're known for their violence, robberies, drugs. We know they're affiliated with Al Qaeda," Colletti says, "its to the point where the government of El Salvador is on a quest to stamp out the growth of this gang, because it's so violent and brutal."

MS 13 sprang up in the 1980s, with its roots in El Salvador, but the gang became known for its use of ruthless violence for intimidation, including an instance experts describe where gang members actually left an informants head as a calling card.

Rodas Cruz is at the Calcasieu Correctional Center, being held without bond, which is standard procedure with MS 13 members because the gang is so dangerous. He will go to Oakdale for removal proceedings, and then, Colletti says, back to El Salvador.

Rodas Cruz is one of the first MS 13 members caught in Lake Charles, but with a strong presence in Houston, Colletti wants to keep it that way.

"Luckily for us, we cut him off before he could finish his trip."