No Boundaries

Transnational Latino Gangs and American Law Enforcement
Tom Diaz
With a foreword by Chris Swecker, former Assistant Director of the FBI and former head of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

An alarming report on Latino crime gangs and the efforts of U.S. law enforcement to contain them


No Boundaries is a disturbing account of what many consider the "next Mafia"—Latino crime gangs. Like the Mafia, these gangs operate an international network, consider violence a routine matter, and defy U.S. law enforcement at every level. Also, the gangs spawn kingpins such as the notorious Nelson Martinez Varela Comandari, who nearly became the first "Latin godfather" in the United States.

Focusing on the Los Angeles–based Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the 18th Street Gang, and the Chicago-based Latin Kings, Tom Diaz describes how neighborhood gangs evolved into extremely brutal, sophisticated criminal enterprises and how local and federal authorities have struggled to suppress them. As he makes clear, the problem of transnational Latino gangs involves complex national and international issues, such as racial tensions, immigration policy, conflict in Latin America, and world economic pressures.

"Tom Diaz has worn out some shoe leather, much like a good detective, in gathering facts, not myths or urban legends. As a result he has produced an accurate and comprehensive look at a grave and present danger to our society."
—From the foreword by Chris Swecker, former Assistant Director of the FBI and former head of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division

Cover photograph: Tegucigalpa, Honduras: A policeman passes by a graffiti of the Mara Salvatrucha "MS-13" (juvenile gang) at the entrance of the unit where members of the gang are kept imprisoned in the National Penitentiary in Tamara, 30 km north of Tegucigalpa, February 1, 2006. © Elmer Martinez/AFP/Getty Images

Tom Diaz is a lawyer, author, and public speaker who conducts research on gun policy and violence for the Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank. He has covered national security affairs for the Washington Times and served as counsel to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice from 1993 to 1997.

Praise / Awards

  • "Criminal street gangs are no longer a regional or local problem; they have developed into a complex, nationwide threat to public safety.  Few people know more about the subject than Tom Diaz and no single book tells the whole story better than No Boundaries. If you really want to know what organized crime in America looks like today, then read this alarming book.  You won't be disappointed."
    —Rocky Delgadillo, City Attorney of Los Angeles, 2001-2009

  • "This highly readable account accurately assesses the threat posed by violent Hispanic youth gangs and the responses to date by U.S. law enforcement. Above all, Tom Diaz captures the dynamic of change of gang behavior from the 1940s to the present and the continually evolving efforts by the U.S. police-justice system to cope with it."
    —John Bailey, Georgetown University

  • "This is an important book, at a time when an AK-47 is cheaper to buy than a Playstation, and children are using weapons of war to kill other children."
    —Mayor Manuel A. Diaz, City of Miami, Florida

Look Inside

Copyright © 2009, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Classroom Resources

Discussion Questions | Word doc


Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 360pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2011
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03468-0

Add to Cart
  • $29.95 U.S.

Related Products



  • Latino gangs, Transnational gangs, MS-13, 18th Street gang, Latin Kings, gang violence, criminal aliens, crime and immigration, drug trafficking, FBI