Editor’s note: Today’s regularly scheduled Week In Review will not run today to make way for this special presentation by El Paso News. Week In Review will return next Friday.
Part of El Paso’s criminal underworld is seldom discussed publicly. When speaking about criminal or prison gangs, most of the time the topics are either the Crips and Bloods and other times it is the Mara Salvatrucha, better known as MS-13. Although many believe MS-13 is a Salvadoran gang, it originated in Los Angeles in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Another criminal gang originated at the same time in Texas, the Barrio Azteca. Commonly associated with gang violence and the drug trade, prison gangs have been part of America’s criminal underworld for decades.
When it comes to El Paso, however, the drug trade and the prison gangs are just footnotes in the national debate. As we reported, El Paso officials like to keep the false narrative that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the nation.
That is why one of the “most dangerous” criminal gangs is an inconvenient fact for El Paso leaders. The Barrio Azteca keeps its power centralized in El Paso to this day.
The Barrio Azteca, like MS-13 and other gangs like the Texas Syndicate were born in the prisons. Like MS-13, the Barrio Azteca grew to be one of the largest and most dangerous prison gangs in America. This special short documentary by El Paso News provides a quick history of El Paso’s gang.
Unfortunately, the false narrative of El Paso’s safety is again keeping the dangers of gangs out of the news media and away from the attention of El Pasoans. As much as El Paso officials try to bury the reality of violent gang activity in the city, the recent Cielo Vista Mall shooting and rising gang violence cannot keep the inconvenient fact contained.