Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised this week to deal with the brutal MS-13 street gang in the same way the U.S. rid the country of gangster Al Capone: via tax laws.
“Just like we took Al Capone off the streets with our tax laws, we will use whatever laws we have to get MS-13 off the streets,” Sessions said, during the 24th International Association of Chiefs of Police in Center City Philadelphia on Monday.
Amid a series of gruesome, high-profile murders across the United States, taking down MS-13 is now a top priority for all law enforcement agencies, said Sessions.
Since starting in Southern California in the 1980s and gaining a foothold throughout Central America in the 1990s, MS-13 now has an estimated 10,000 members burrowed into communities across the country.
“MS-13 functions like all immigrant organized crime groups. They start by targeting their own community,” Lou Gentile, a former officer at the Organized Crime Unit of the Pennsylvania State Police and founder of investigative firm CSI, told Fox News.
Below are the states hardest hit by the violent gang:
- California: As the birthplace of MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, gang activity such as human trafficking, prostitution and illegal alcohol sales have spread throughout the state. They murder rival gang members and sell drugs. Back in May, federal and local law enforcement officers arrested 21 alleged MS-13 members and served warrants at more than 50 locations.
- New York/New Jersey: President Trump warned about the growing threat of MS-13 and received heavy criticism from liberals, but the gang has killed more than 20 people on Long Island since the start of last year. Considered one of MS-13’s domestic epicenters, Long Island’s Suffolk County is said to harbor approximately 400 MS-13 gang members. The area is currently making headlines as Nassau County police found what they believe are gravesites for the gang’s victims.
- Washington, D.C., and Virginia: This area is said to be riddled with special gang “cliques” that answer to international “leaders.” Three alleged gang members are currently awaiting trial in the stabbing death of a 15-year-old girl in northern Virginia that was filmed and narrated on a cell phone with the intention of sending the footage to MS-13 leaders in El Salvador.
- Texas: MS-13 members coming to the U.S. from Central America typically stop in Texas after they’ve scaled the U.S. border, and some of them stay there. Texas’ Department of Public Safety estimates approximately 500 members of MS-13 are in the state and believed to be cooperating with Mexican drug cartels.
- The Carolinas: As the Salvadoran population spreads throughout North and South Carolina, MS-13 infiltrates and extorts the immigrant community there. Police forces in these smaller, rural communities aren’t equipped to properly deal with the rising gang threat.
- Central America: MS-13’s presence throughout Central America has made the region one of the most dangerous places in the world.
“As long as illicit cross-border crimes are profitable, the relationship between cartels and gangs will continue,” a DPS report states.
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