With Jeff Sessions leading the charge, the law enforcement community is making progress in the battle against violent gangs.
Newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he is going after the gangs that plague our country. In particular, he has called for increased enforcement and investigation into the MS-13 criminal Gang.
Mr. Sessions said the gang, which is linked to El Salvador, carries a threat similar to the Colombian cartels and the mafia. He also highlighted the fact that MS-13 smuggles gang members across the United States border and recruits young and susceptible immigrants.
His message was familiar, and it bore the wishes of President Trump, who Mr. Sessions said was “particularly alert” to the violence affecting Suffolk County, where the bodies of four young men who had been brutally killed were found near a park on April 13. Investigators said the killing had all the hallmarks MS-13 handiwork.
In the last six weeks, the United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested 1,378 people in a massive gang-related operation. Of those, 1,095 were confirmed as gang members, ICE said, while the remaining 238 were arrested on either “criminal or administrative charges.”
Acting director Thomas Homan said, “violent criminal street gangs are the biggest threat facing our communities.” The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit carried out the operation, its largest to date. ICE said it was targeting gang members and associates involved in cross-border criminal activity including drug and weapons smuggling, sex trafficking and murder.
During the six-week operation, 238 firearms were seized, alongside almost 600lb (270kg) in mixed drugs, and close to half a million dollars in cash. Those arrested were considered to be confirmed gang members, ICE said, if they admitted to membership, had been convicted of gang-related offenses, had tattoos of a specific gang, or were identified “by a reliable source.”
Among the 1,378-people arrested were members of the Bloods and Crips – two notorious Los Angeles gangs, members of the Surenos – a Mexican-American affiliation, members of MS-13 and hundreds of other individuals with unknown gang ties.
ICE also said that ten people arrested had entered the US as unaccompanied minors. Of those, nine were gang members with three falling into the category of so-called “Dreamers,” or part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) scheme. Under DACA undocumented immigrants who arrive as children are allowed to stay, barring no major security concerns.
“Aliens granted DACA who are found to pose a threat to national security or public safety may have their deferred action terminated at any time, and the Department of Homeland Security may seek their removal from the United States,” ICE said in its press release adding that about 1,500 people have been deported for that reason since 2012.
The large-scale operation was part of Operation Community Shield, an ongoing program which targets gang members with the help of federal and local law enforcement agencies.