Arrested Locally as Part of Massive MS-13 Gang Crackdown

Hundreds of accused gang members and associates are under arrest, but its violence is spreading in American neighborhoods.

Of those arrested in the nationwide operation, 198 are foreign nationals and 16 are USA citizens, federal officials said.

It is too early to tell what effects operations such as this will have on MS-13's presence and growth in the United States.

He added, "This is a great operation, but we are not done and we will not be done until we totally dismantle this organization".

The successful "Raging Bull' sweep was announced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Deputy Director Tom Homan in a joint press conference at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday".

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The Mara Salvatrucha gang, or MS-13, began in the 1980s in Los Angeles.

ICE reports that 16 of the 214 arrested were U.S. citizens and 198 were foreign nationals, of which only five had legal status to be in the U.S. Foreign nationals arrested were from El Salvador (135), Honduras (29), Mexico (17), Guatemala (12), Ecuador (four) and Costa Rica (one). El Salvador police also arrested 53 gang members in El Salvador.

Of the 214 arrested, 193 are in the United States illegally, 16 are USA citizens, and five are foreign nationals with legal status.

"By taking criminal street gang members and associates off the streets - if they are here illegally, removing them from the country - we are addressing a significant security and public safety vulnerability", said Derek Benner, who works as a top executive in ICE's Homeland Security Investigations. More than 60 of those arrested had entered the country as unaccompanied minors, ICE officials said.

The operation, which was done in two phases, began with more than 50 arrests in El Salvador, then 214 arrests in the US between October 8 and November 11.

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In July, U.S. immigration agents launched raids on suspected gang members that for the first time included teenagers, reversing the practice of the previous administration. MS-13 is the only street gang designated by the Treasury Department as a transnational criminal organization. The Justice Department said it's trying to do exactly that.

While the vast majority of those youths are not criminals, Kolb said, they are a fertile recruiting base for gangs like MS-13.

A few weeks ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions deemed the MS-13 a priority for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF).

- There is a major crackdown on gang activity around the country and it is all thanks to Operation Raging Bull.

Homan said MS-13 maintains a "sophisticated global network" that targets children.

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  • Kelly Blake