The Department of Justice announced that in cooperation with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, criminal charges are being brought against more than 3,800 members of the violent MS-13 and 18th Street criminal gangs living in the United States and Central America.. 

Of the more than 3,800 persons charged, over 70 are located in the US in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Virginia. In Guatemala, law enforcement officers seized firearms and charged 284 gang members. In Honduras, 14 businesses and 11 luxury vehicles were seized and 12 MS-13 money launderers were arrested. In El Salvador, 3,477 criminal charges were filed, resulting in more than 1,400 arrests.

One indictment unsealed yesterday in the District of Massachusetts include charges for Edwin Manica Flores (aka Sugar, Chugar and Shugar), a leader of the MS-13 narcoterrorist organization who is incarcerated for murder in El Salvador. He is also charged with a RICO conspiracy for alleged criminal activity he directed in the United States as the leader of MS-13’s “East Coast Program.” Also, there were charges filed in Long Island on July 19 against 17 MS-13 members for 12 murders, including the April 11 quadruple murder of four men in Central Islip, and for: racketeering; attempted murders; assaults; obstruction of justice; arson; conspiracy to distribute marijuana; and firearm violations.

Known as Operation Regional Shield, the multi-national effort was praised by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “MS-13 is one of the most violent and ruthless gangs in America today, endangering communities in more than 40 states. But under President Trump’s strong leadership, the Department of Justice is taking them off our streets,” Sessions said. “MS-13 coordinates across our borders to kill, rape, and traffic drugs and underage girls; we’ve got to coordinate across our borders to stop them. That’s exactly what our courageous and professional DOJ agents and attorneys are doing. We will continue to maintain this steadfast policy and dismantle this gang.”

On February 9, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order to dismantle and eradicate transnational gangs threatening the safety of American communities. Since then, Sessions has made dismantling transnational gangs, including MS-13, a top priority. In March, Sessions met with his counterparts from Central America to develop strategies and plans to address MS-13. 

“Our citizens demand prompt and effective responses from the security and justice system,” said Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana Hernandez. “We must therefore continue promoting and implementing actions such as Operation Regional Shield that effectively strengthen the rule of law and build safer, more supportive, more prosperous and fairer societies.”



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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