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Over 3,800 suspected gang members charged in U.S. and Central America

October 2, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Over 3,800 suspected gang members charged in U.S. and Central America

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Over 3,800 suspected gang members charged in U.S. and Central America

Over 3,800 purported gang members have been charged in an international operation targeting gangs in the U.S. and Central America.

On Friday, Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco announced the outcome of the six-month probe targeting members of brutal gangs MS-13 and Barrio 18, launched in March by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Attorneys General in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

A U.S. Department of Justice press release noted that over 70 people were charged in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.

“Increasingly, transnational crime – and its attendant violence – touches U.S. communities, leaving devastation in its wake,” Blanco stated on Friday.

In Central America, law enforcement officers charged 284 accused gang members in Guatemala and arrested 12 suspected MS-13 money launderers in Honduras. El Salvador filed 3,477 criminal charges, resulting in more than 1,400 arrests.

President Trump pledged to “destroy” MS-13 and other groups like it during a speech in front of police in Long Island, New York back in July.

“Together we’re going to restore safety and peace to our communities and we’re going to destroy the vile cartel MS-13 and many other gangs,” Trump stated.

MS-13 was formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s as an inrush of Salvadoran immigrants escaped the civil war in Central America. Barrio 18 has a similar story, with its roots based in Honduras.

Blanco said that information was not available regarding whether the 70 gang members apprehended in the U.S. were immigrants.

El Salvador’s Attorney General Douglas Melendez Ruiz said it was clear that U.S. gang members work in close collaboration with their Central American counterparts.

The six-month operation targeted members of violent street gangs MS-13 and Barrio 18, or 18th Street gang was initiated in March by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Attorneys General of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“Gang members in El Salvador are giving orders to commit crimes in the U.S. We have evidence that MS-13 members based in the United States are giving orders to commit crimes in El Salvador,” he added. “They have created a hierarchy that orders are carried out regardless of borders.

In Central America, police officers charged 284 gang members in Guatemala and arrested 12 suspected MS-13 money launderers in Honduras. El Salvador filed 3,477 charges, which resulted in over 1,400 arrests.

“We conducted operations coordinated among all of our countries impacting the leadership structure of the gangs and with an emphasis on the cliques which are generating the most revenues and with the strongest transnational ties,” Melendez Ruiz said.

Officials stated that they believed the operation would serve as a basis for later collaborative efforts against transnational crime.

“This has an end because we’re working together,” Blanco added. “These gang members in Central America are not going to have a place to hide.”

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