WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed before a meeting of the Organized Crime Council this morning that the alliance of U.S. government agencies would take down Latin American gangs like Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) the same way they took down the Mafia and Colombian drug cartels.
President Trump issued an executive order in February directing “a comprehensive and decisive approach …to dismantle these organized crime syndicates and restore safety for the American people.”
Trump ordered that law enforcement should give “high priority” to “thwart” and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations, and told agencies to “pursue and support additional efforts to prevent the operational success of transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations within and beyond the United States, to include prosecution of ancillary criminal offenses, such as immigration fraud and visa fraud, and the seizure of the implements of such organizations and forfeiture of the proceeds of their criminal activity.”
The attorney general’s Organized Crime Council is led by the deputy attorney general and consists of representatives from nine federal law enforcement agencies.
Sessions said today the agencies would “be proposing concrete ideas to follow through on President Trump’s directive,” calling groups like Ms-13 “one of the gravest threats to American safety.”
“MS-13 has become a symbol of this plague that has spread across our country and into our communities. There are over 30,000 members abroad with their headquarters in the El Salvadoran prison system. According to the National Gang Intelligence Center, MS-13 now has more than 10,000 members in at least 40 states in this country — up significantly from just a few years ago,” he said. “Because of an open border and years of lax immigration enforcement, MS-13 has been sending both recruiters and members to regenerate gangs that previously had been decimated, and smuggling members across the border as unaccompanied minors.”
“…We cannot allow this to continue. We will secure our border, expand immigration enforcement and choke off supply lines. If you are a gang member: We will find you. We will devastate your networks. We will starve your revenue sources, deplete your ranks and seize your profits. We will not concede a single block or street corner to your vicious tactics.”
Sessions said he recognizes that won’t be an easy task, but if the U.S. was able to take down other organized crime syndicates “we can do it again.”
The attorney general added criticism for sanctuary cities, saying jurisdictions not working in some way with federal immigration officers “dangerously undermine this process.”
“Harboring criminal aliens only helps violent gangs like MS-13. Sanctuary cities are aiding these cartels to refill their ranks and putting innocent life — including the lives of countless law-abiding immigrants — in danger,” he said.
Sessions promised “more in the coming weeks and months as we seek to eradicate these transnational criminal organizations.”
“Under the Trump administration and this Department of Justice, there will be no safe quarter for gangs and those that support them,” he added.