Ricardo Torres-Cortez, Las Vegas Sun, October 21, 2020
The federal indictment this summer in Las Vegas of about a dozen members of the MS-13 gang on drug and weapons charges was touted in a Justice Department report released Wednesday on the transnational criminal organization, which claims that about 75% of its members targeted for prosecution in the past four years in the U.S. were here illegally.
From 2016 to 2020, federal authorities have prosecuted 749 MS-13 members, convicting over 500 of them, including 37 who’ve received life sentences, the report said. A total of 74% were undocumented immigrants, while the status of 15% couldn’t not be determined. Additionally, 8% are U.S. citizens, and 3% could live here legally, the report said.
“The data also show that for decades MS-13 has exploited weaknesses in border enforcement policies,” authorities said in a news release.
The efforts against MS-13 were amplified by President Donald Trump, who through executive order soon after he took office, directed authorities to “dismantle” criminal organizations here, such as MS-13, the release said.
In August of last year, the Joint Task Force Vulcan was formed under Attorney General William Barr. Since then, U.S. officials have stepped up collaborating with governments in Mexico and Central America, where the California-born gang has strong footholds.
“In 2017, the president directed the Department of Justice to go to war against MS-13, and we did just that,” said Barr in the news release. “Joint Task Force Vulcan’s operations have significantly degraded MS-13 capabilities.”