Feds Bring Terrorism Charges In Latest MS-13 Gang Crackdown

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Federal authorities announced terrorism charges Wednesday against a leader of MS-13, continuing a nationwide crackdown against a notorious street gang that President Donald Trump described as “vile and evil.”

An indictment unsealed in Virginia against Melgar Diaz marked the first time the Justice Department has brought terrorism charges against a member of MS-13. Attorney General William Barr described Diaz as “the person who would green-light assassinations” for the gang in the United States.

It was not immediately clear whether Diaz had a defense attorney who could comment on the charges.

Prosecutors also said they would seek the death penalty against Alexi Saenz, another MS-13 leader on Long Island, New York, charged in seven killings, including those of two high schools students slain with a machete and a baseball bat. A lawyer for Saenz declined to comment.

“We believe the monsters who murder children should be put to death,” Trump told reporters at the White House, adding his administration would not rest before bringing every member of the gang to justice. “There’s never been any move like this before.”

The announcement came a day after grand juries in New York City and Nevada handed up new charges against nearly two dozen MS-13 members, ranging from drug dealing and kidnapping to murder and racketeering.

Barr said the prosecutions are part of the government’s efforts to dismantle a gang he likened to a “death cult.”

Also known as Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13 is considered one of the top transnational organized crime threats in the United States.

The organization is unique, Barr said, in that it is driven not by “commercial interests” but sheer bloodlust.

“It’s about the honor of being the most savage, bloodthirsty person you can be and building up a reputation as a killer,” Barr said.

MS-13 is believed to have been founded as a neighborhood street gang in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s by immigrants fleeing a civil war in El Salvador. The gang recruits young teenagers from El Salvador and Honduras, though many gang members were born in the U.S.

“The only way to defeat MS-13 is by targeting the organization as a whole, focusing on the leadership structure and deploying a whole-of-government approach against a common enemy,” said John Durham, a federal prosecutor in New York who directs a special task force targeting the gang.

Trump, who visited Long Island in 2017 to address the gang problem, has blamed the violence and gang growth on lax immigration policies.

The president said Wednesday that U.S. Immigration and Customs has arrested more than 2,000 MS-13 members over the past few years.

“We’ve taken them out by the thousands,” he said.

(AP)




3 COMMENTS

  1. “The only way to defeat MS-13 is by targeting the organization as a whole, focusing on the leadership structure and deploying a whole-of-government approach against a common enemy,” said John Durham, a federal prosecutor in New York who directs a special task force targeting the gang.

    Correct. But not quite enough. When a business loses its leader, someone else moves up a rank to take over the responsibilities. The size and tentacles of this terror group are huge, and it is a high expectation that getting the leaders alone will disable the organization. Besides, the ones committing the murders and other atrocities are often those lower in the hierarchy.

    I propose that the system prepare to deal with these terrorists in a much more severe manner than with other criminals. Here are some ideas.

    * Being very liberal with the death penalty. It’s ultimately cheaper than supporting these animals with all the luxuries of prison for life sentences.
    * Allow a single appeal of the sentence, but no more. The persistent appealing through the courts at the government’s expense for legal services is wasteful.
    * Withhold all the luxuries granted other prisoners. Their time spent behind bars should be unpleasant. No seven course meals, no 24/7 entertainment, no elective surgeries at government expense, etc. The barest minimum is more than enough.
    * Bring back waterboarding. There should not be concern that these rabid animals find the experience uncomfortable. Wherever these predators are, they should be found and stopped.

  2. “Calling people animals is not a good thing,” Nancy Pelosi said when defending MS-13 gang against Trump comparing them to animals.