MIAMI (EFE) – Miami police thisweek arrested nine members of CentralAmerica’s violent Mara Salvatrucha(M.S.) street gang for their alleged linksto murders and robberies in southernFlorida, a U.S. law enforcement officialannounced.It was the first time members of theCentral America-based gang have beenarrested in Florida, indicating that thegang appears to be more widespread thanauthorities realized.Edward Halley, the spokesman for theU.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco andFirearms, said that the arrested personsare believed to have been “involved in amultitude of crimes, including murder,robbery, home invasions and drug trafficking.“They pose a serious threat of harm tothe community,” Halley added. “Their useof weapons and guns is indiscriminate.”AMONG those arrested over theweekend after a 48-hour police operationare two Honduran men wanted for murderin California. Police identified themas José Maldonado, 26, and DenisAlvarado, 24.Halley said they were both in thecountry illegally.The two, who are heavily tattooed –including on their heads – with the nameof the gang, will be transported toCalifornia to face murder charges, whilefive of the other seven persons, whosenationalities were not released, are facingdeportation, presumably back to CentralAmerica.Two others were arrested on drugcharges and are facing outstanding warrants.HALLEY said that the group is suspectedof carrying out a series of homeinvasions in South Florida over the pastfour months.During the arrests, Halley said, lawenforcement officials seized firearms andcash believed to have come from some ofthe robberies the group is alleged to havecommitted.In Honduras, the authorities suspectthat members of the Mara Salvatrucha –which was formed by Salvadoran immigrantson the streets of Los Angeles in the1980s, and now also operates inHonduras, El Salvador, Guatemala andsouthern Mexico – were responsible forthe Dec. 23, 2004, massacre on a city busin which 28 people were slaughtered in ahail of gunfire (TT, Jan. 7).”Mara” refers to a group, “Salva” to ElSalvador and “trucha” is slang for “watchout” in Spanish. The gang is also knownas MS-13, and has recently inspired spin offgangs in Nicaragua.The maras are fighting what has beendescribed as open warfare with CentralAmerican authorities, especially inGuatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.