TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - A 21-year-old American woman was detained in Honduras, authorities said on Wednesday, for allegedly heading a faction of the Mara Barrio 18, one of the gangs responsible for a crime wave in the Central American nation that has sent families flocking to the United States seeking refuge.
Amarjit "La Chucky" Pabla and two other Hondurans were arrested on Tuesday night in a poor neighborhood of the capital Tegucigalpa, where authorities also seized seven firearms.
A spokeswoman for the National Anti-Extortion Force (FNA) police unit said that Pabla planned and ordered killings in territorial disputes with rival gangs.
Pabla, who was born in California to an American father and a Honduran mother, is the wife of Cristian Ariel "Little Sam" Calix, a Mara Barrio 18 leader who has been in prison since December on charges of arms and drug trafficking, according to FNA.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Honduras said the Embassy takes its obligation to support American citizens abroad very seriously and will provide all appropriate consular assistance to Pabla.
Formed in the 1980s in the United States by Central American immigrants, the "maras" morphed into feared international gangs when, a decade later, many of their leaders were deported to their countries of origin such as Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Women rarely hold leadership positions in the gangs.
The two most dangerous gangs, Mara Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha 13, are waging a war to dominate extortion, drug dealing and theft that has turned Central America into one of the most dangerous regions of the world.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Alistair Bell)