And Attorney General Jeff Sessions flew to El Salvador in July, in part to learn more about how the gang’s activities there affect crime in the U.S.
Department of Justice officials said in a news release that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made dismantling transnational gangs, including MS-13, a top priority after President Donald Trump issued an executive order February 9 on enforcing federal law with respect to transnational criminal organizations and preventing worldwide trafficking to dismantle and eradicate transnational gangs threatening the safety of communities throughout the U.S.
An Everett man federal authorities say is a top leader of the notorious MS-13 gang has been indicted on RICO conspiracy charges after he was recorded during a conference call among gang members urging them to increase recruitment of new members and to send more cash to leaders in El Salvador, WBUR reported.
Federal authorities in MA say that they have secretly recorded audio of Flores giving instructions to heads of MS-13 outfits in Boston, Houston, Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. It says he encouraged recruitment in the USA and taught his counterparts ways to evade law enforcement.
“MS-13 is one of the most violent and ruthless gangs in America today, endangering communities in more than 40 states”. The gang leaders would then use the cell phones to order US members to make more money or “green light” the murder of rivals or members cooperating with law enforcement.
“The fact that we are hitting them on both sides is really what’s important”, Blanco said.
Sessions commended a multi-agency sweep previous year of MS-13 members in and around Boston that led to the arrest of more than 60 alleged gang members. The gang has other large “programs” based in New York, Los Angeles and Hollywood.
In March, Sessions met with his counterparts from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to develop “strategies and concrete plans to give a strong and coordinated response to MS-13’s increasingly transnational criminal activities”. That violence has prompted a migration of people trying to escape, especially children, some of whom are then recruited into the gang once in the U.S.
Members of the gang, with deep ties to El Salvador, were in attendance, including clique leaders from Boston, Maryland, Ohio, Texas and Virginia, the indictment read. Gang leaders imprisoned there use the phones to instruct members in the U.S.to kill rivals and extort immigrants.
MS-13 members in the Bay State operate in “cliques”, the indictment says.
“If you guys work there with the program … you will contribute something to El Salvador and be well recognized over there”, Flores said, according to the indictment.
The timing of the get-together is critical, as the indictments will change gang dynamics, said Zach Terwilliger, who prosecuted gangs in the Eastern District of Virginia before taking a position in the deputy attorney general’s office.
The MS-13 gang’s formal name is Mara Salvatrucha.