There are 263 less gang members on the street today. Federal agents arrested many violent offenders and seized cash, weapons and drugs.
“Among those charged are 158 members and associates of MS-13, with 105 others allegedly belonging to other gangs. Authorities arrested 84 non-gang members wanted on criminal charges and 14 people on immigration violations as part of the same sweep,” according to the U.S. Customs Enforcement Agency.
MS-13, the central focus of the federal agency’s efforts, is a gang that first originated in Los Angeles. Known as “Mara Salvatrucha,” the group was founded by a collection of Salvadoran immigrants fleeing civil war back home. Its membership spread throughout the United States, Central America and even Canada.
Officials say they characterize MS-13 as one of the most volatile criminal gang associations known today.
“Special agents with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations unit also seized 28 firearms, 10 kilograms of marijuana, 123 grams of cocaine, over 770 grams of heroin and about $22,400 in cash,” officials said. “MS-13 members engage in various criminal activities, including drug trafficking, murder, rape, robbery and other crimes.”
Alongside other law enforcement agencies from Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador, U.S. officials say they’ve conducted international arrests of MS-13 members and their efforts have been ongoing. Back in 2005, government agents partnered with agencies from five other countries to “eradicate” the infamous gang’s stronghold over the worldwide landscape. They all collectively worked from a command post in Washington D.C.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker.
According to reports, MS-13 has expanded to more than 50, 000 members. Its gang's membership “now targets younger recruits more than ever,” according to a report by the FBI.
FBI says that in order to combat the gang’s growing influence; they established a national gang task force in 2004 headquartered in Washington D.C. They say they’ll continue to work with other agencies “to help improve operations and prosecutions” of violent MS-13 gang members worldwide.