International Operation Charges 3,800 Gang Members

Anders Hagstrom | Justice Reporter

U.S. and Central American law enforcement bagged more than 3,800 members of the MS-13 and 18th Street gangs in a massive gang-busting operation, the according to the Justice Department (DOJ).

The coordinated action known as Operation Regional Shield involved law enforcement units from the U.S., El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the DOJ announced Friday. U.S. forces arrested more than 70 gang members; Guatemala charged 284; Honduras seized 14 businesses and arrested 12, and El Salvador charged more than 3,400 and made over 1,400 arrests.

“MS-13 is one of the most violent and ruthless gangs in America today, endangering communities in more than 40 states. But under President Trump’s strong leadership, the Department of Justice is taking them off our streets,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a press statement Friday. “MS-13 coordinates across our borders to kill, rape, and traffic drugs and underage girls; we’ve got to coordinate across our borders to stop them. That’s exactly what our courageous and professional DOJ agents and attorneys are doing. We will continue to maintain this steadfast policy and dismantle this gang.”

The operation is only the most recent chapter in the America’s long-fought war against MS-13, which has escalated considerably under Sessions. (RELATED: ICE Director To MS-13: ‘My Gang Is Bigger Than Yours’)

Sessions went after sanctuary cities in July for their lax immigration policies that facilitate the spread of MS-13 and other gangs which rely on the high illegal immigrant population in the U.S.

The U.S. alliance with the three Central American countries allows their law enforcement agencies to share crucial information about gangs that allows for devastating strikes against their financial structures.

Friday’s announcement is the culmination of six months of information sharing since the partnership was announced in March.

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