Attorney General Jeff Sessions called out Philadelphia and other sanctuary cities for “giving sanctuary to criminals” in a Friday speech to law enforcement officers.
Sessions has fought against sanctuary immigration policies since his appointment, recently weighing in to support Texas Gov. Greg Abbot’s ban on sanctuary cities in his state. Sessions argued Friday that, aside from the fundamental issue of shirking federal law, sanctuary cities inhibit the Department of Justice from effectively combating drug trafficking and the MS-13 gang.
“Their motto is ‘kill, rape, control.’ And that is what they do every day,” Sessions said of the gang. “To take MS-13 off our streets, we need cooperation between law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels. Unfortunately, this cooperation has been impeded by the policies of some cities and states. Some jurisdictions in this country refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and turn over illegal aliens who commit crimes—even MS-13 gang members.”
MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, originated as a Los Angeles street gang in the 1980s composed of El Salvadorans that fled their country for the U.S. during their country’s civil war. (RELATED: ICE Director Stares Down MS-13 ‘My Gang Is Bigger Than Theirs)
Sessions claimed the gang has as many as 10,000 members across the country. ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has been cracking down on the nation’s gangs since January, leading to the arrests of 3,111 gang members — 357 of whom have been MS-13 members. ICE has also deported 2,798 gang members in FY2017.
Sessions argued that fighting gangs is a large part of winning the war on drugs. He also cited the recent DOJ victory in shutting down the “largest dark net market in history,” the website AlphaBay on Thursday.
While U.S. officials acknowledged that another dark website may be created to replace AlphaBay, they noted that law enforcement will apply what they have learned in future police actions against illegal dark web markets.
“I’m convinced this is a winnable war,” Sessions said.
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