With Congress considering immigration reform, the FBI is boasting about the take down of four leaders of the international MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) gang living by the motto “rape, kill, control” and terrorizing the Atlanta metro region.
“The MS-13 gang is composed primarily of immigrants and/or their descendants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras,” the FBI explains in a Tuesday news report. “In the U.S., this extremely violent criminal organization got its start in Los Angeles and then spread out to a number of states around the country, including Georgia.”
Ernesto Escobar, Miguel Alvarado-Linares, and Dimas Alfaro-Granados have been sentenced to life in prison for murders and attempted murders in the area, and Jairo Reyna-Ozuna has been sentenced to over ten years for his participation as well.
Their incarceration comes as part of a multi-year, multi-agency investigation of the group’s factions in Atlanta, which concluded in 2010 and resulted in the arrests and/or deportation of 75 members. The leaders who received life in prison were sentenced in December.
According to the FBI the defendants committed their crimes for “seemingly minor reasons” such as protecting their “turf,” getting better reputations, or revenge. The gang had been operating in the area since 2005.
Some of their crimes, the FBI report lists include:
- Murdering a fellow MS-13 member who was thought to be cooperating with police;
- Ordering an MS-13 member who wanted to leave the gang to first commit an act of violence, leading the departing member to shoot into a car believed to be carrying rival gang members—killing the passenger and wounding the driver;
- Returning to a nightclub following a fight with a suspected rival gang member and fatally shooting a man walking through the club’s parking lot;
- Going back to a gas station after a scuffle with two teenagers who worked there and fatally shooting one of them as he painted lines in the parking lot;
- Murdering a 15-year-old boy—a suspected 18th Street gang member—with a shotgun.
“Such international gangs as MS-13 will continue to be the focus of a joint law enforcement effort at all levels with the goal to arrest those involved and to dismantle the organization as a whole,” Ricky Maxwell, acting special agent in charge at the FBI Atlanta Field Office, said in a statement at the defendants’ sentencing in December.
The FBI’s report comes as the debate over immigration reform continues. According to a senior GOP aide, the fact that this type of international criminal activity exists demonstrates a lack of current immigration enforcement.
“The administration’s failure to enforce the laws of the land has enabled criminal gangs to initiate profound violence in American communities. We hear reports from field officers that gang members are caught and released because they have yet to be convicted of a ‘serious offense’,” the aide emailed The Daily Caller.
“Immigration laws were made to protect law-abiding citizens, and so it’s very hard to understand why [House Judiciary Chairman Bob] Goodlatte would be pushing an amnesty while the administration refuses to enforce immigration laws designed to prevent bad things from happening,” the aide added.
House Republicans released their principles of immigration reform last week, which included the assurance that “enforcement must come first” and a pathway to legalization for those in the country illegally “once enforcement triggers have been implemented” — which some have argued will likely be watered down.