Leaders of the gang MS-13, which has roots in Central America, are looking to send “younger, more violent offenders” to the United States to take the place of gang members who have been arrested and imprisoned over the past year.
During a House Committee on Homeland Security meeting on Thursday, lawmakers discussed efforts to disrupt MS-13’s presence in the United States.
“They’re very much interested in sending younger, more-violent offenders up through their channels into this country in order to be enforcers for the gang,” said Stephen Richardson, assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, Voice of America News reports.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the committee’s chairman, added that Salvadoran law enforcement agencies told his staffers that gang leaders were “frustrated that MS-13 members in this country are not violent enough” and wanted to send “more violent members” to the United States.
“It’s a horrifying thought,” King said.
The Trump administration has decided to crack down on gangs, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in October designating MS-13 as a priority for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.
The U.S. Department of Justice says MS-13 has about 40,000 members worldwide and about 10,000 in the United States. To date, it is the only gang labeled a “transnational criminal organization” by the U.S. government.
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