President Donald Trump is celebrating after Bill Barr’s Justice Department announced the arrests of nearly two dozen MS-13 gang leaders.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Attorney General Barr confirmed the arrests in a statement Thursday. Among those facing charges is Melgar Diaz, who, according to Fox News, became the first MS-13 member to be indicted on federal terrorism charges in the U.S.
“In 2017, the President directed the Department of Justice to go to war against MS-13, and we did just that,” Barr wrote Thursday, according to the Free Beacon.
He went on: “While there is still work to be done, the Department of Justice remains committed to protecting Americans threatened by MS-13, and we will not rest until we have successfully defeated this transnational criminal organization.”
“That’s a first”
The gang members were targeted under an initiative known as the Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), as Barr noted in his Thursday statement. According to Fox, the operation began in August 2019 with goals of “disrupting, dismantling, and ultimately, destroying MS-13.”
It seems President Trump, for his part, is happy with the task force’s results.
“We have the MS-13 leader on charges of terrorism — that’s a first,” Trump noted at a press conference in the Oval Office Wednesday, where he was flanked by Barr and other top Justice officials, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Besides Diaz, the Justice Department has also indicted Alexi Saenz, who, according to Fox, has been accused of committing seven brutal murders. Among his alleged victims were two high school students that he is accused of helping kill with a machete and a baseball bat in September 2016, Fox notes.
Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas were 15 and 16 years old, respectively, at the time of their deaths. The murder that allegedly took place at the hands of Saenz occurred as the girls walked home from school in the Long Island community of Brentwood, CBS News reported.
“These murders show a level of brutality that is close to unmatched,” Suffolk County police commissioner Tim Sini said of the incident, according to CBS. And President Trump seems poised to agree.
Speaking at his Wednesday presser, Trump made clear that capital punishment isn’t out of the question when it comes to these kinds of criminals.
“We believe the monsters who murder children should be put to death,” Trump said, according to a transcript provided by the White House. “We will not allow these animals to terrorize our communities.”