IN HIS FIRST INTERVIEW, CONFESSED MURDERER AND FORMER MS-13 GANG MEMBER EXPRESSES REMORSE FOR CAUSING HIS "FRIEND" PAIN WHEN HE STABBED HER TO DEATH -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Ismael Cisneros Reflects on his Murder of Brenda Paz and MS-13 Gang Life
Stabbing Brenda Paz numerous times caused her to suffer an unusually painful death, suffering he wishes he could have prevented, says Ismael Cisneros, the former gang member now serving life for the crime. In his first interview, Cisneros tells Dan Rather about his "friend" Paz and his life in the notorious Hispanic gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, for a 60 MINUTES report to be broadcast Sunday Dec. 4 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"I considered [Paz] a friend. She was a gang member. She was a home boy. That's what we called one another in the gang," Cisneros tells Rather. He and another gang member stabbed Paz about 13 times in retaliation for her cooperation with police. Cisneros wishes it could have been a cleaner and quicker death. "One is not born an assassin or born practicing where you have to stab someone to kill a person on the first try," says Cisneros. "I would have wanted for her not to have suffered, you understand?"
Killing Paz, who Cisneros knew was pregnant, hurt him as well, he says. "From the point where I was, it was painful for me, everything that happened. And it keeps being painful even up to right now," he tells Rather, who points out Brenda's pain was much worse. "We have all suffered, sir. Brenda suffered, we all suffered. Not only Brenda," replies Cisneros.
Pain, murder and prison are the gang's trappings as Paz is ironically quoted saying on a videotape obtained by 60 MINUTES. Asked what the MS-13 tattoo of three dots stands for, Paz says, "The three places MS will lead you -- jail, hospital or the cemetery."
Says Cisneros, "MS-13 has rules, you understand? And when you break the rules, we all have to decide if you deserve to die," he tells Rather.
Started in Los Angeles by refugees of the civil war in El Salvador of the late 1970s and early '80s, the gang that began as a means of protection from other gangs has grown into an international organization. One of Paz' closest friends in the gang has become a witness because the murder of Paz so upset her. She spoke to Rather on camera in a disguise. "It's everywhere. There's MS in New York. There's MS in Florida. I mean, they're everywhere. Texas, Virginia, Minnesota," she says. "They traffic guns, drugs, whatever. Stolen cars."
The danger posed by MS-13 is so great that the FBI, for the first time ever, has organized a task force to combat one gang. "We don't look at them as a typical gang," says FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker. "MS-13 has two characteristics that give us great concern�.One is that they are extremely violent, and they're proliferating around the country. Two is they're an international criminal organization," says Swecker. "You can find them in five countries and now even in Europe."
The task force may never be entirely successful, says Swecker. "We'll never wipe them out completely, I don't think. Our goal is to get them to a stage where they're not a criminal force," he tells Rather.