President Donald Trump and two of his key cabinet chiefs addressed the growing problem of the violent transnational MS-13 gang on April 18, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions even saying the gang could qualify as a terrorist organization.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly called MS-13 one of the greatest hazards the nation faces.
And Trump sent out a tweet: “The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S. We are removing them fast!”
The MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, gang was formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s by mostly-illegal immigrants who were escaping the civil war in El Salvador.
It is now one of the largest criminal organizations in the country, with 6,000 to 10,000 members in at least 42 states, according to FBI estimates. In addition, more than 60,000 members operate internationally, mostly in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
Robert Capers, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. said MS-13 gets gang members to illegally enter the United States from Central America and recruits new members from schools and communities around the country.
In 2004, the FBI created the MS-13 National Gang Task Force.
Lax immigration enforcement policies have allowed the gang to proliferate throughout the United States, often in lockstep with large numbers of unaccompanied minors from Central America being placed in communities by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
In the last 3 1/2 years, around 30,000 of these young people have been placed in just four counties in the United States—Harris County in Texas, Los Angeles County, Suffolk County in New York, and Miami-Dade County in Florida.
All four counties are struggling with MS-13 gang violence.
Homeland Security said that about 60 percent of the children initially determined to be unaccompanied minors are actually released to a parent already living illegally in the United States. Almost 80 percent of the 59,000 unaccompanied minors crossing the southwest border in fiscal year 2016dd were from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras, according to Homeland Security data. In 2009, only 17 percent of the unaccompanied minors hailed from these three countries.
Securing the Borders
Homeland Security chief John Kelly outlined his agency’s approach to gangs at George Washington University on April 18 during a wide-ranging speech on terrorism and security.
“They intimidate, kidnap and torture those who try to bring law and order. They buy, sell, and exploit desperate people for their own sick purposes. They destroy their own communities and bring great shame on their own nations,” Kelly said.
“They are utterly without laws, conscience, or respect for human life. They take the form of drug cartels, or international gangs like MS-13, who share their business dealings and violent practices.”
Eradicating the Gang
Sessions told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night that MS-13 had come back aggressively in recent years, especially since 2009.
“It is one of the most violent gangs in the history of our country,” Sessions said. He said his goal is to “devastate” the gang. “It’s going to be hard, but not impossible. These are not geniuses.”
Full article: Trump Administration Vows to ‘Devastate’ MS-13 Gang (The Epoch Times)