“MS-13 is not the largest street gang in the United States; it is increasingly the most violent and well-organized,” an official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) told the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence on Tuesday morning. The FBI assistant director said the gang had a “propensity for gruesome violence.”
William F. Sweeney, Jr., the assistant director in charge of the FBI in New York told the committee that street gangs in general “show no signs of decreasing memberships or a decline in criminal activity.” In fact, according to the FBI’s 2015 National Gang Report, memberships in gangs increased in 2013 to 2015 in 49 percent of jurisdictions. Sweeney told the members of Congress that the FBI estimates there could be up to 10,000 members of the MS-13 gang living in the United States.
Although the leadership of the notorious MS-13 gang is based in El Salvador and Honduras, the clique leaders in the U.S. coordinate not only with each other in this country, they work with leaders in El Salvador, Sweeney said. “They frequently discuss targets, members who have fallen out of favor, and ways to expand their operations.” This makes the MS-13 gang “atypical in their approach to crime and organizational structure.”
“Members also capitalize on the ability to extort individuals living in the United States who still have family in Central America, threatening to harm family abroad. Using fear as a method of extortion, the gang often targets small business owners and restauranteurs, individuals who don’t want to join the gang, and gang members who no longer want to be active,” Sweeney said.
The FBI assistant director told the committee that the gang has “gained notoriety” because of their “brutal nature.” “Their motivation is rooted in a desire to kill for the sake of killing. The attacks on their victims are gruesome, typically up close and personal. They often involve mutilation and dismemberment and are sometimes recorded.”
On May 5, Breitbart Texas’ Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief Brandon Darby and Ildefonso Ortiz reported: “Five Facts Every American Must Know About the Brutal MS-13 Gang.” For one, MS-13 members work as foot soldiers for Mexican cartels on U.S. soil. Two Minnesota teens were kidnapped and tortured by MS-13 gang members who were working on behalf of the Mexican Sinaloa Federation cartel. After a Sinaloa Cartel methamphetamine stash house had been robbed in St. Paul, Minnesota, the cartel hired MS-13 members from Los Angeles, California to fly to Minnesota to investigate. They tortured two local teens, nearly severing one finger off of one of the teens to try to get information. And although liberals blame deportations for the gang’s creation, MS-13 originated from illegal immigrants in California. MS-13 members often pose a bigger threat to Border Patrol agents than the Mexican cartels the gangs work for.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, the rise of MS-13 gang violence has dramatically impacted crime in the nation’s fourth-largest city, Houston. In April, Governor Greg Abbott announced the creation of a Texas Anti-Gang Task Force to target these criminal alien gang members. Houston is one of the five cities that the FBI has identified to have a large MS-13 presence. Darby and Ortiz reported that the State of Texas considers the gang to be a Tier 1-level threat – the “most significant” threat level.
In March, two MS-13 gang members appeared in a Harris County courtroom laughing and waving at news cameras after being charged with the kidnapping and rape of one 14-year-old girl, and the kidnapping, rape, and murder of another young girl in Jersey Village – a city within the Houston metropolitan area. The murdered girl was allegedly killed as part of a satanic ritual.
On June 10, Breitbart Texas reported that the numbers of unaccompanied minors (UACs) being apprehended at our southern border with Mexico, particularly from El Salvador, was once again on the rise. Although there had been a six-month downtrend, 8,005 UACs from El Salvador have been apprehended after crossing the border illegally since October 1, 2016. There were 1,493 apprehended in May alone — nearly a fifty percent increase from the previous month.
MS-13 members frequently recruit children who are illegal immigrants. The FBI assistant director from New York told members of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence that MS-13 members are “typically much younger than those connected to other street gangs.” They take “cues from the gang instead of relying on a productive family structure. Also, those emigrating from El Salvador to the United States are known to be exposed and desensitized to extreme violence at an early age.”
Sweeney reported that the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force (LIGTF) has arrested over 200 MS-13 gang members since 2010. Over 35 of these gang members were involved in homicides. A majority of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges for participating in murders, attempted murders, and assaults. Moreover, MS-13 is believed to be responsible for more than 20 homicides in Suffolk and Nassau Counties just since 2016; he told members of Congress on the committee.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.