Ties That Bind: Violent prison gang seeks to increase power with street gangs

Ties That Bind: Violent prison gang seeks to increase power with street gangs

From the Las Vegas Optic

Editor’s note: The following is the first in a series exploring the role street gangs, prison gangs and organized crime play in violence, drug trafficking and addiction within Las Vegas and its surrounding communities.

Federal agents and officers from multiple agencies converged on Las Vegas in the summer of 2012 following a months-long investigation into the distribution of heroin and cocaine near public schools and at New Mexico Highlands University. Fourteen homes in Las Vegas were searched, and agents arrested 25 people. More recently, in the fall of 2019, federal agents raided multiple homes and a bank while executing 20 search warrants.

The 2019 raids were part of a nearly five-year FBI investigation into the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico, a powerful — and often violent — prison gang that the FBI alleges is attempting to gain control of New Mexico’s street gangs in order to increase SNM’s reach and power inside jails and prisons and on the streets. The investigation led agents to Las Vegas, where the FBI alleges SNM has a strong presence.