MS-13 -- the focus of a nationwide crackdown by FBI and federal immigration agents -- has become known in recent years for home invasion robberies, drug dealing and machete attacks on its enemies. however, after the sweeping chaos across America, the FBI has heightened concerns that MS-13 could be far more dangerous than thought.
Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, continues to expand its influence in the United States. FBI investigations reveal that it is present in almost every state and continues to grow its membership, now targeting younger recruits more than ever before.
To counteract this growth, the FBI formed the MS-13 National Gang Task Force in December 2004. Based at FBI Headquarters, this intelligence-driven task force combines the expertise, resources, and jurisdiction of federal agencies that investigate this violent international street gang. It focuses on maximizing the flow of information and intelligence, coordinating investigations nationally and internationally, and helping state and local law enforcement improve operations and prosecutions targeting MS-13. The National Major Gang Task Force is also known for their committement to providing leadership and information within the criminal justice system and other stakeholders to minimize the effects of security threat groups, gangs and terrorists in jails, prisons and communities. One way of performing counterterrorism, the FBI and task force has instituted the Central American Fingerprint Exploitation (CAFE) initiative to acquire criminal fingerprints from the Central American region and to merge those fingerprints and associated criminal records into our Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) database.
FBI: Cracking Down on Violent Gangs
In cooperation with our local, state, federal, and international partners, the FBI's MS-13 National Gang Task Force (NGTF) coordinated a series of arrests and crackdowns across the nation and throughout Mexico and Central America this week. The operation resulted in a series of arrests, searches, detentions, and other law enforcement actions. At the conclusion of the operation, more than 650 individuals had been taken into custody.
Law enforcement agencies in five nations participated in the operation targeting members of Mara Salvatrucha-13 and similar violent gangs. Most of the arrests were made Wednesday, with more than 6,400 police officers, federal agents and other officials taking part in 12 states and five countries: the U.S., El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. "The gangs are organizing internationally, and so are we," said Chris Swecker, FBI assistant director in charge of our Criminal Investigative Division, discussing the operations Thursday. He called the operations "historic and unprecedented in scope."
Recently, in the United States, 73 gang members had been arrested on a range of charges, which included immigration violations. In El Salvador, more than 237 gang individuals were had also been arrested, as well as 162 in Honduras, 98 in Guatemala and 90 in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The FB in each country led separate operations organized through the FBI's MS-13 NGTF.
Adaptable, organized, and highly fierce - Mara Salvatrucha 13 has carved a niche in our community and dug in their heels, declining to back down even from high profile specialists such as the Federal Police. However, by bringing together sources from the local, state, federal and global law enforcement community, all heights of U.S. law enforcement and our worldwide partners are functioning together and distributing information. This is a very good thing because this signifies a beginning, another step in an continuing national and international exertion to go on an offensive and to attack back against gang violence in America.
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