DOJ Releases Report on its Efforts to Disrupt, Dismantle, and Destroy MS-13

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Today, the Department of Justice released “Full Scale Response: A Report on the Department’s Efforts to Combat MS-13 from 2016-2020.” This report describes the Department’s work to dismantle La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) in the United States and abroad. The data show that since 2016, the Department has prosecuted approximately 749 MS-13 gang members. So far, more than 500 of these MS-13 gang members have been convicted, including 37 who received life sentences. Department prosecutors are using more than 20 federal criminal statutes to prosecute MS-13 members, including, for the first time, filing terrorism charges against MS-13’s leadership. The data also show that for decades MS-13 has exploited weaknesses in border enforcement policies, as approximately 74 percent of the defendants prosecuted were unlawfully present in the United States. The report also describes the Department’s efforts to combat MS-13 internationally through increased partnerships with law enforcement in Mexico and Central America. Through international cooperation, hundreds of MS-13 members have been arrested abroad and more than 50 MS-13 members have been extradited to the United States.

Combating MS-13 has been a top priority for the Department of Justice. On February 9, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13773, directing the whole-of-government to develop and execute a comprehensive approach to dismantle Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) such as MS-13 and restore safety for the American people. In doing so, the President recognized that these organizations put the safety of the American people at risk through widespread illegal conduct, including acts of violence and abuse that exhibit a wanton disregard for human life. The President directed the Department to support and improve the coordination of federal agencies’ efforts to identify, interdict, investigate, prosecute, and dismantle TCOs and subsidiary organizations within and beyond the United States. Pursuant to the President’s Executive Order, on October 15, 2018, Attorney General Sessions created the Transnational Organized Crime Task Force to focus on the disruption and dismantlement of TCOs such as MS-13.

On August 16, 2019, Attorney General Barr created Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV) to coordinate and lead the efforts of the Department and U.S. law enforcement agencies against MS-13 in order to eradicate the group. JTFV has successfully increased coordination and collaboration with international law enforcement partners, including El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala; prioritized prosecutions against MS-13 cliques and leaders; and coordinated significant MS-13 indictments in U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country.

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