Monday, March 14, 2005

Over 100 MS-13 Members Arrested in Sweep - 25 in DC

Yahoo! News - 103 Alleged Gang Members Arrested in Sweep

103 Alleged Gang Members Arrested in Sweep

Mon Mar 14, 2:24 PM ET

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The government on Monday announced the arrests of 103 alleged members of MS-13, a street gang rooted in Central America where members have been known to behead enemies and attack with grenades and machetes.

The arrests, in seven cities since early January, are the first of a nationwide crackdown on Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, which is one of the largest and most violent street gangs in the United States. Federal officials estimate between 8,000 and 10,000 MS-13 members live in 31 states — the majority of them in the country illegally. There have been machete attacks in U.S. cities along the East Coast.

Agents with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement used information from state and local law enforcement authorities to target MS-13 activities in the New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Newark, Miami and Dallas metropolitan areas.

... MS-13 began in El Salvador (news - web sites) and now includes members from Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

Last month, former Homeland Security Deputy Secretary James Loy called MS-13 an emerging threat to the United States, referring to the gang and the al-Qaida terrorist organization in the same breath in testimony to Congress. Garcia said Monday that while there is no definitive link between MS-13 and al-Qaida, the gang's operations show that "you have to accept that as a homeland security risk as well."

Officials arrested 30 alleged gang members in the New York metropolitan area, the most of any of the seven cities targeted. Twenty-five were arrested in Washington, 17 in Los Angeles, and 10 each in the Baltimore, Newark and Miami areas. The last arrest came in Dallas, officials said.

COMMENT: MS-13 gang members who attacked a youth in Alexandria with a machete and severed four fingers on one hand and a thumb on the other (which was reattached) were sentenced to between 12-15 years - too light a sentence for the crime and the suffering inflicted on the victim. The FBI has downplayed any connections between MS-13 and al-Qaeda, although there have been persistent rumors of meetings between suspected al-Qaeda operative Adnan El-Shukrijumah and MS-13 members in Central America.

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