The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is making no bones about his agency’s commitment to dismantle the notorious MS-13 gang, a transnational criminal organization based in El Salvador.
Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan told The Daily Caller: “My gang is bigger than theirs.”
He went on to say that ICE's Homeland Security Investigations “targets many gangs” but noted that the investigative team is decidedly focused on MS-13 because “they seem to be the most violent right now and they think they can act with impunity.”
“We’re taking this seriously. My gang is bigger than theirs, and we are going to take them out,” Homan said. “That’s the goal. The president supports that. We’re going to follow through on the president’s promise, and we are going to take out MS-13 as much as we can.”
Homan’s stark warning to MS-13 echoes comments from President Donald Trump, who last month said the violent gang is being “depleted” and “will be gone pretty soon.”
“They’re being thrown out in record numbers and rapidly,” the president said at the time.
La Mara Salvatrucha, later shortened to just MS-13, actually began in Los Angeles in the 1980s, when Salvadorans fled to the United States. The gang’s offshoot in Central America first sprung up when members of the organization were deported by the U.S. back to El Salvador, according to a University of Pittsburgh research paper hosted by the Justice Department’s National Criminal Justice Reference Service.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that MS-13 has about 30,000 members, 10,000 of whom are in the United States, the New York Times reported.
ICE HSI has arrested more than 8,000 gang members and associates between fiscal year 2016 and June 4, according to Derek Benner, acting associate executive director of the agency. Of those arrests, 602 are MS-13 members.
A recent operation carried out by ICE HSI and New York law enforcement officials led to the arrest of 39 MS-13 members in the Empire State over a 30-day period, the Times reported.
Thomas R. Decker, ICE’s New York field office director for enforcement and removal operations, described MS-13 as “a violent street gang actively wreaking havoc in the community.”