Federal immigration officials on Wednesday announced the arrest of 39 MS-13 gang members in New York City over a monthlong stretch.
A total of 45 gang members were arrested during the effort, according to a press release from U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The arrests were part of Operation Matador, a multi-agency initiative including ICE, Homeland Security Investigations, the Transnational Organized Crime Initiative, and local law enforcement agencies.
All 45 arrestees were men. They were nationals from four different countries: 27 from El Salvador, 11 from Honduras, 5 from Mexico, and 2 from Guatemala.
Several of the men arrested had prior felony weapons charges.
“These individuals are members of a violent street gang actively wreaking havoc in the community,” said Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ERO New York. “This unified effort is about keeping New York citizens safe.”
Two members of the Sureños gang were arrested. Other arrestees were members of the 18th Street Gang, the Latin Kings and Los Niños Malos.
“Individuals are confirmed as gang members if they admit membership in a gang, have been convicted of violating … any federal or state law criminalizing or imposing civil consequences for gang-related activity, or if they meet certain other criteria such as having tattoos identifying a specific gang or being identified as a gang member by a reliable source,” says the release from ICE.
Most of the arrests — 33 of them — happened in Suffolk County, on Long Island. Twelve of the arrestees, all of them confirmed MS-13 gang members, crossed the border as unaccompanied minors. Some of those arrested will be immediately removed from the country, and others will begin immigration proceedings and go before an immigration judge.
Homeland Security Investigations has been involved in the arrest of more than 200 MS-13 gang members so far this year.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions specifically singled out MS-13, telling them, “we are coming for you.”