James Trusty Quoted by Washington Post on Trump Administration Crack Down on MS-13 Gang
Sadie Gurman & Jake Pearson
April 19, 2017
Trump, top officials take aim at brutal MS-13 street gang
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration vowed Tuesday to crack down on MS-13, a notoriously brutal Central American street gang blamed for a recent series of killings in suburban New York, and accused Obama-era border policies of allowing its ranks to flourish.
The gang is known for hacking and stabbing victims with machetes, drug dealing, prostitution and other rackets. Their recruits are middle- and high-school students predominantly in immigrant communities and those who try to leave their risk violent retribution, according to officials.
“These organizations enrich themselves by pedaling poison in our communities, trafficking children for sexual exploitation and inflicting horrific violence in the communities where they operate,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in remarks before meeting with top federal law enforcement officials on ways to dismantle ultraviolent transnational gangs.
… Sessions has called for more aggressive prosecution of crimes such as illegal border crossing and smuggling others into the U.S. as a way to deter violence.
“We cannot allow this to continue. We will secure our border, expand immigration enforcement, and choke-off supply lines. If you are a gang member: We will find you,” said Sessions, who also alleged that so-called sanctuary cities, which limit local cooperation with immigration authorities, undermine law enforcement efforts to stop such gangs.
The president later tweeted that “Sessions is doing a fantastic job: announced today new steps to dismantle violent gangs like MS-13. I promised to get tough and we are!”
… Federal prosecutors have targeted MS-13 before, pursuing racketeering cases throughout the 2000s in places such as San Francisco, Maryland, northern Virginia; Charlotte, North Carolina; and elsewhere. The Justice Department said it made progress in 2009 and 2010. The FBI last week added an MS-13 member to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for his suspected role in the 2011 killing of a man with a baseball bat and a screwdriver.
But James Trusty, who headed the department’s organized crime and gang section before he left in January, said the group appeared to be experiencing a recent revival in some of those same places.
Stricter vetting at the border is necessary to stop MS-13 members from coming into the U.S., Trusty said, noting some are coached to tell immigration officials they’re escaping violence in their home country in order to stay.
“My own view is there has to be some correlation between lax immigration policies and replenishment of the gangs in places where they already existed,” he said.