On April 28, Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Long Island, New York to deliver one message to the notorious MS-13 gang: “We are coming after you.”
Operation Matador, a new anti-gang initiative, has led to the arrest of 39 alleged MS-13 members in the last 30 days, a U.S Immigration and Customs report said. Operation Matador began in response to a string of murders in a normally peaceful neighborhood and is dedicated to eradicating transnational criminal gangs.
“These individuals are members of a violent street gang actively wreaking havoc in the community. This unified effort is about keeping New York citizens safe,” said Thomas Decker, New York Enforcement and Removal field office director. “[Operation Matador] face[s] no limitations in the apprehension and dismantling of transnational criminal organizations. We will not rest until our communities are safer and individuals like these are brought to justice.”
MS-13 is renowned for their brutal murders. Their motto is “kill rape and control.” The gang has killed 11 in Suffolk County, N.Y. in the last year — including allegedly beating four Long Island high schoolers to death in April. A member of the Massachusetts FBI task force testified to MS-13 gangsters “cutting off of limbs, and attempt[ing] to cut off a victim’s head with a machete.”
MS-13 was the first street gang to be labeled a “transnational criminal organization” by the Treasury Department in 2012 due to their history of drug and sex trafficking, kidnapping, human smuggling, murder, and assassinations in multiple countries. The FBI National Gang Intelligence Center estimates the gang has 30,000 members across the world, 10,000 of which are in the United States. The gang members’ median age is 18, according to a New York police commissioner.
Of the total 45 gang members arrested, 20 had previous criminal records and 12 entered the U.S illegally as minors. The MS-13 members were from El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala.
Sessions said in his speech that he planned to make America safe again.
“Our motto is justice for victims and consequences for criminals. That’s how simple it is. Prosecute them, and after they’ve been convicted, if they’re not here lawfully, they’re going to be deported.”