The Trump administration has focused on dismantling the international criminal street gang MS-13, and President Trump said at a Monday cabinet meeting that the group “will be gone pretty soon.”
The president’s comments came after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that law enforcement officials around the country are “so thrilled” about the administration’s goal to “properly, lawfully fight the rising crime that we are seeing.”
“Great success, including MS-13,” Trump said about Sessions’ efforts at the Justice Department. “They’re being thrown out in record numbers and rapidly, and they’re being depleted. They will all be gone pretty soon.”
MS-13 is an international gang with its leadership based in El Salvador. Sessions has previously said that there was 30,000 members in El Salvador and an additional 10,000 spread across 40 U.S. states.
The gang is infamous for its brutal violence. A detective with the Chelsea, Massachusetts Police Department testified in a recent Senate hearing that he’s investigated cases in which MS-13 members have cut off limbs and attempted to decapitate a victim. He described this as violence he had never seen in 22 years as an investigator.
The gang recruits among immigrant communities, and the Trump administration has made the organization a focus. Sessions said in an April speech that “if you are a gang member: we will find you. We will devastate your networks.” President Trump at the time blamed Obama’s immigration policies for the spread of the gang.
“The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS-13 gangs to form in cities across U.S. We are removing them fast!,” Trump tweeted.
A recent gang sweep conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 1,378 gang members, many of which face deportation proceedings.