A new report prepared by the Center for Immigration Studies illustrates how violent crimes committed by the dangerous narco-terrorist MS-13 organization increased during the Obama administration. During the Obama era, some 300,000 illegal aliens entered the country, many of whom were unaccompanied minors who took advantage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, by which they received work permits and temporary residence authorization.

Crimes committed by Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) have ranged through 22 states, including 207 murders. The CIS report shows that there are 500 criminal cases being charged against members of the violent criminal organization that traces its origins to Central America.

While President Donald Trump has vowed to address crimes committed by MS-13, efforts by federal immigration authorities have been hampered by the so-called “sanctuary” policies put in place in numerous jurisdictions. The entire state of California, the city of Chicago, and elsewhere refuse to cooperate with detainer requests issued by immigration law enforcement to keep wanted illegal aliens in jail long enough so that they can be taken into federal custody.

“The proliferation of sanctuaries may complicate disruption of MS-13,” said the report. “Many of the hotbeds of MS-13 activity are also places where local officials have adopted sanctuary policies. These policies prevent ICE from working effectively with local law enforcement agencies. There are approximately 300 sanctuary jurisdictions in the country, and they include municipalities, counties, and states.11 About half of the MS-13 arrests in our case set (222) occurred in sanctuary jurisdictions,” said the report. There are currently about 300 sanctuary jurisdictions in the country.

Jessica M. Vaughan, who authored the CIS report, showed how immigration policies under Barack Obama fostered the rise in violent crime, noting, “this resurgence represents a very serious threat to public safety in communities where MS-13 has rebuilt itself. The resurgence is directly connected to the illegal arrival and resettlement of more than 300,000 Central American youths and families that has continued unabated for six years, and to a de-prioritization of immigration enforcement in the interior of the country that occurred at the same time.”

In a video, Vaughn said that MS-13 has seen a resurgence in recent years as a result of the "catch and release" policy installed by the Obama administration that have "waived in more than 300,000 youths and family members arriving illegally from Central America." She said that gang members have been able to bring in family members "right under the noses of the Border Patrol, and also have been able to recruit aggressively from this huge new pool of illegal arrivals."

Some key findings in the report:

"We found 506 MS-13 members arrested or charged with crimes that were reported in 22 states. The most cases were reported in California (92), Maryland (85), New York (80), and Virginia (63).

"MS-13 crimes are not primarily petty nuisance crimes; 207 MS-13 members were charged with murder. In addition we found more than 100 accused of conspiracy/racketeering, and dozens of others for drug trafficking, sex trafficking, attempted murder, sexual assaults, and extortion.

"While most of the reports of MS-13 suspects in our case set did not include information on the immigration status of the individual, we could determine that 126 of the 506 suspects (and 38 of the 207 murder suspects) were illegal aliens.

"The median age of MS-13 gang members identified was 23, and suspects ranged in age from 14 to 57.

"The median age of their victims was 19, and victims ranged in age from 14 to 74. Sixty of the victims were under the age of 18, including 52 of the murder victims.

"120 of the 506 MS-13 suspects in our case set arrived as UACs (Unaccompanied Alien Children), including 48 of the murder suspects.

"The location of these MS-13 crimes corresponds with locations of large numbers of UACs who were resettled by the federal government."

Vaughn noted in the report that illegal aliens who came to the U.S. as “unaccompanied alien children” during the Obama administration were placed in various states, including California, Maryland, New York, and Virginia. Among them were illegal aliens benefiting from Obama’s DACA amnesty. Some living in the U.S. as DACA recipients encouraged their confreres to join them in the country.

Vaughn wrote, “One MS-13 clique leader in Frederick, Md., who had received a DACA work permit and was employed as a custodian at a middle school in Frederick, Md., and who was recently incarcerated for various gang-related crimes, reportedly was told by gang leaders in El Salvador to take advantage of the lenient policies on UACs to bring in new recruits, knowing that they would be allowed to resettle in the area with few questions asked. Several of these unaccompanied minors now have been arrested and incarcerated for various crimes, including a vicious random attack on a sheriff's deputy in 2015.”

According to Vaughn, MS-13 has committed especially violent crimes. She wrote, “The MS-13 members identified in the cases we found were accused of very serious crimes, including 207 murders. More than 100 were accused of conspiracy/racketeering, and dozens of others were charged with drug trafficking, sex trafficking, attempted murder, sexual assaults, and extortion.” 

Federal immigration authorities have had some success in arresting MS-13 members, and those of similarly criminal organizations.

In operations from March 26 through May 6 in 2016, 1,378 suspects were arrested throughout the country in one of the largest round-ups of gang members accomplished by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security agency. The greatest activity by ICE took place in Atlanta, Houston, Newark, and New York. In Michigan, 20 members of various gangs were caught. Of the 1,378 arrests, 1,098 face federal and/or state charges. Of these, 21 face murder-related charges. In Michigan, far from the southern border of the U.S., 20 gang members were apprehended. Of those arrested, 1,095 were confirmed as gang members and affiliates, including 137 affiliated with the Bloods, 118 with the Sureños, 104 with MS-13, and 104 with the Crips.

'See you in hell'

Among the more spectacular crimes committed by MS-13 members was the stabbing death of a 15-year-old girl in suburban Fairfax County, Virginia, in the Washington DC metro area. An 18-year-old woman, Venus Iraheta, 18, admitted to the murder of Damaris Reyes Rivas, 15. Romero Iraheta said in a confession that before killing the girl, she said, “You’re going to remember me until the day we see each other in hell. Don’t forget my name.” Iraheta said, “And I told her my full name and I told her my nickname. And I told it to her and I told her to never forget who I was. I told her someday we were going to see each other again.”

Lured to a public park after hours, Reyes Rivas found herself surrounded by about a dozen members of the gang. Iraheta told police that she said, “‘You don’t play with me.’ So I hit her. I kept hitting her. Until they stopped me.” Iraheta finally admitted, “I killed her,” having stabbed the victim  “something like” 13 times. “I don’t remember how many times I stabbed her in the stomach,” the teen said. “Thirteen. Something like that.” Pointing to her abdomen during the interrogation, Iraheta showed exactly where she stabbed the girl. “I think it was 12 here,” pointing to stomach. “And the 13th was in here [pointing to her neck].” Gang members then took Reyes Rivas into the woods where they stabbed her multiple times. Iraheta remembered, “I left the knife in her neck,” Iraheta recalled. She pleaded guilty to murder in the first-degree, along with abduction and criminal street gang participation in relation to the killing.




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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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