Top local law enforcement officials testified in a Senate hearing Wednesday on the violence perpetrated in their communities by the immigrant street gang MS-13.
Scott Conley, a detective with the Chelsea, Massachusetts Police Department and a member of an FBI task force, said that the street gang commits the “most heinous of violent acts.”
“Some of which as a 22-year investigator I’ve never investigated before,” Conley added. “To include cutting off of limbs, and the attempt to cut off a victim’s head with a machete.”
MS-13 is designated as a transnational street gang, as its approximately 10,000 members in the U.S. ultimately report to leadership in El Salvador. The gang heavily recruits young Central American immigrants, and Timothy Sini, police commissioner of Suffolk County (N.Y.) Police Department, testified that the median age of MS-13 gang members is 18.
Sini continued on to say that since Jan. 1, 2016, there have been at least 17 homicides in his county linked to the gang. J. Thomas Manger — chief of police in Montgomery County, Maryland and president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association — testified that MS-13 has “evolved into one of the most violent and murderous gangs in the world.”
He said that that what “distinguishes the MS-13 homicides is the premeditation, brutality and callousness in which they were committed; with many of the victims suffering from multiple blunt force trauma and stab wounds and left in shallow graves in isolated wooded areas.”
The gang has established control in the drug trade on America’s West Coast, and has started to establish a foothold on the East Coast, according to Conley.
The gang has grown since the surge of illegal immigrant unaccompanied minors in 2014.
Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said in his opening remarks that he had recently received documents from a whistleblower that revealed the Obama administration knowingly let in gang members who were part of this surge.
“CBP apprehended them, knew they were MS-13 gang members, and they processed and disbursed them into our communities,” the Wisconsin Republican said.
The Trump administration has focused on targeting MS-13. Attorney General Sessions said in a recent speech that the federal government will work to take down the gang much like they did the Mafia. “If you are a gang member: we will find you. We will devastate your networks,” Sessions stated. (RELATED: ICE Announces ‘Largest Gang Surge To Date’ Resulting In Over 1300 Arrests)