Updated July 21, 2020
President Trump and Attorney General William Barr announced that a U.S. operation has lead to the arrest of several MS-13 leaders, including one gang member who has been indicted for terrorism-related offenses.
During a press conference, the administration shared that Joint Task Force Vulcan, which was launched in August 2019, resulted in the “indictment and arrest of dozens of savage MS-13 leaders.”
“This is probably the meanest, worst gang anywhere in the world, the MS-13 group,” Trump said. “And a big dent was put in them, took place over the last few days and really over the last year.”
Among those arrested was Melgar Diaz of the Eastern District of Virginia, who became the first MS-13 member to be charged with terrorism.
“He was responsible for activities in 13 states — 20 cliques in the United States. He was also the person who would greenlight assassinations in the United States,” Barr said. “The orders come from El Salvador — or they request to assassinate people who go down to El Salvador, and he would greenlight the hit.”
The Trump administration is also seeking the death penalty against MS-13 member Alexi Saenz, who was charged in 2017 for allegedly murdering seven people.
“The person we are seeking a death penalty against was involved in those murders as well as two African Americans who they saw on the street and thought were from a rival gang and just butchered,” Barr added.
Twenty-one MS-13 members in New York and Nevada were also arrested and charged with murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking, among other offenses, officials reported.
During his speech in the Oval Office, Trump said over the past three years ICE had deported more than 16,000 gang members and arrested more than 2,000 members of MS-13.
President @realDonaldTrump: "We've just concluded a historic operation leading to the arrest and indictment of dozens of savage MS-13 members and leaders all across the country." pic.twitter.com/vnVfiAjYra
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 15, 2020