The U.S. Department of Justice has charged several suspected members of the MS-13 street gang with offenses including capital murder, kidnapping, attempted murder, drug and weapons charges, and other terror-related counts, as Attorney General William Barr confirmed in a press release on Wednesday.
“In 2017, the President directed the Department of Justice to go to war against MS-13, and we did just that,” he wrote.
“Still work to be done”
Touting the success of Joint Task Force Vulcan in the pursuit of this goal, Barr added that the operation has “significantly degraded MS-13 capabilities.”
While acknowledging there is “still work to be done,” he noted that the Justice Department and its staff “remains committed to protecting Americans threatened by MS-13, and we will not rest until we have successfully defeated this transnational criminal organization.”
As part of the task force’s mission, Barr wrote that agents targeted “command-and-control elements of MS-13” and were able to secure criminal charges against some of them.
Alleged gang member Melgar Diaz was the first to be charged with terror-related offenses, as the Washington Examiner reported.
Additionally, the Justice Department is prepared to seek the death penalty against Alexi Saenz for seven murders it alleges he committed — including one in which he is accused of using a baseball bat and a machete.
“A historic operation”
The agency’s press release stated that Barr created the task force in August “to carry out the recommendations of the MS-13 subcommittee formed under the Attorney General’s Transnational Organized Crime Task Force, which was the result of President Trump’s February 2017 Executive Order directing the Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, such as MS-13, and restore safety for the American people.”
President Donald Trump, who has frequently spoken out against the gang, expressed satisfaction with the news of recent indictments against alleged members.
“We’ve just concluded a historic operation leading to the arrest and indictment of dozens of savage MS-13 members and leaders all across the country,” he said.
In March, federal authorities confirmed 17 alleged MS-13 members had been charged for an array of crimes in the area of San Francisco, California.
With continued prosecutions and the clear support of the president, Barr and the Justice Department are poised to make a big difference in communities across the U.S. under siege by this vicious gang.