Homeland Security Targets "Most Dangerous Gang in America"

MS-13—a gang with roots in El Salvador and Los Angeles—was designated a “trans-national” criminal organization by the U.S. Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday. 

Consisting of more than 30,000 members in five nations,  financial assets connected to the gang will now by targeted by investigators from U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement, a strategy long employed against traditional organized crime, La Cosa Nostra.  Here in New York, the gang has been centered in the middle of Long Island, in towns like Brentwood, Hempstead and Huntington.  There have also been pockets of MS-13 activity in Queens and Brooklyn.

Referring to the gang, James T. Hayes—Special Agent in Charge of ICE New York—told PIX 11 more than four thousand MS-13 members have been arrested nationally in the last, six years.  They deal in drug and gun running, human smuggling, and sex trafficking.   Hayes said the gang is more brutal than the Bloods or the Crips.  “I can give you an example of people being tied up, and burned, and kept alive on purpose….for the sole reason of getting information or sending a message,” Hayes told PIX.

When ICE agents do operations to “take down” gang members, they often employ a mobile, armored vehicle that can withstand return fire.  Agents are heavily suited up with “ballistic vests, ballistic helmets,” Hayes told PIX. 

The formal name for MS-13 is “Mara Salvatrucha”.  Most members have tattoos on various parts of their bodies with the number 13 or letters MS.  Their creed, in Spanish, is “Mato, roba, violata, controla”….meaning “kill, steal, rape, control.” 

Members have been prosecuted in recent years for any number of crimes, including a plot to “hit” an ICE agent….and the murder in Flushing, Queens of a young man standing on a street corner, who was fatally executed, with gunshots to the head, in a case of mistaken identity.