Inside ICE's Controversial Crackdown On MS-13

Ann Santiago
November 19, 2017

Sixteen of the gang members arrested in the US were American citizens.

But Molina's team was still able to make the arrest based on the suspect's immigration status - part of the unique mandate of the Homeland Security investigations unit of ICE. Gang members from MS-13 have been implicated in several high-profile homicides around the United States.

The agency announced Thursday that 267 people were arrested in its "Operation Raging Bull", which targeted suspected members of the worldwide gang.

USA law enforcement officials announced on Thursday the arrest of 267 members of MS-13, a violent gang the Trump administration has vowed to get off America's streets.

The only street gang designated by the Treasury Department as a transnational criminal organization, MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, boasts almost 10,000 members in the United States, mostly immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The first phase involved 53 arrests in El Salvador in September after an 18-month investigation.

Among those arrested, 16 were citizens, while the other 198 were foreign nationals.

Sixty-four had crossed the border illegally as unaccompanied minors-most of whom are now adults.

There are about 30,000 MS-13 members worldwide, including 10,000 in the United States, according to information provided by the Justice Department.

Most of the MS-13 members were arrested were from El Salvador where the group has ethnic ties
Most of the MS-13 members were arrested were from El Salvador where the group has ethnic ties

"Today I am pleased to announce the arrest of 267 MS-13 gang members and associates in conjunction of ICE's most recent targeted anti-gang effort known as 'Operation Raging Bull, '" Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said, NBC News reports.

In April, Trump tweeted that "weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S". The Justice Department said it's trying to do exactly that.

Homan, recently nominated by President Donald Trump to be the permanent ICE director, said at a news conference that his agency and other law enforcement authorities would continue to disrupt and dismantle MS-13, a violent Salvadoran gang whose full name is Mara Salvatrucha.

Operation Raging Bull involved cooperation at the federal, state, local and worldwide level.

"We are committed to dismantling violent, transnational gangs such as MS-13 and, when applicable, swiftly removing their members from the country", Benner said.

More than 1,200 gang members have been convicted so far this year, and about 4,000 have been arrested and charged, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Last month, Sessions formally designated MS-13 as a "priority" for the department's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, a collective of several law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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