In a speech to law enforcement officers on Friday in New York, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had some tough talk for a notorious street gang.
Sessions was in Suffolk County, where the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, is said to be responsible for 15 murders since early 2016, according to the New York Times.
“MS-13’s motto is ‘kill, rape and control.’ Let me tell you our motto: justice for victims and consequences for criminals,” Sessions said in prepared remarks. “It is that simple. We will prosecute gang members who commit crimes, to the full extent of the law.”
MS-13 was founded in the poor neighborhoods of Los Angeles in the 1980’s. Back then, it was composed of El Salvadorian refugees, but has since expanded to other nationalities and localities. The gang has a presence in several North American countries including the so-called Northern Triangle, which includes Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as Mexico, Canada and the U.S. Locally, the group bullies, extorts and controls the drug trade. Internationally, it’s known for human trafficking and a transnational drug operation.
“There are over 30,000, they tell me now, MS-13 members abroad, with their headquarters in the El Salvadoran prison system. That’s where the bosses operate from,” Sessions said. “According to the National Gang Intelligence Center, MS-13 now has more than 10,000 members. That’s a big increase from where they were a few years ago. They’re in at least 40 states.”
Sessions made his intentions clear. “We are targeting you. We are coming after you,” he said, adding, “if you are a gang member, know this: We will find you. We will devastate your networks. We will starve your revenue sources, deplete your ranks and seize your profits. We will not concede our territory to illegal gangs.”
A crack down on so-called sanctuary cities has been a top priority for President Trump in his first 100 days. Sessions has been at the forefront of that effort and talked about such jurisdictions on Friday.
“I regret to say that we’ve seen district attorneys openly brag about not charging cases appropriately – giving special treatment to illegal aliens to ensure these criminal aliens aren’t deported from their communities,” Sessions said. “They advertise that they will charge a criminal alien with a lesser offense than presumably they would charge a United States citizen. It baffles me.”
“Regardless, no jurisdiction has a right to violate federal law, especially when that violation leads to the death of innocent Americans,” he said.