In a new operation that ended on November 16, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested or assisted in apprehending 267 alleged members of the notorious trans-national MS-13 gang. The first phase of the operation, dubbed “Raging Bull,” led to 53 arrests in El Salvador. Phase two, which occurred on U.S. soil between October 8 and November 11, led to 214 arrests nationwide.
Almost all of the gang members apprehended in the U.S. were illegal aliens, according to ICE. Of those arrested, 198 were foreign nationals, including 193 illegal aliens. Only 16 were U.S. citizens. Additionally, 64 crossed the border illegally at some point as unaccompanied alien minors (UAMs).
ICE Deputy Director, Thomas Homan, praised the results. “MS-13 has long been a priority for ICE. However we are now combating the gang with renewed focus and an unprecedented level of cooperation among DHS’s components and our domestic and international partners.” He also promised that more operations like these will take place in the future. “We will not rest until every member, associate, and leader of MS-13 has been held accountable for their crimes, and those in this country illegally have been removed.”
President Trump promised that apprehending and prosecuting gang members would be a priority in his administration. So far, ICE has assisted in arresting 4,000 MS-13 members in the United States and across Central America, primarily El Salvador. Within the United States, the arrests have secured the convictions of some 1,200 gang members.
MS-13 has an estimated 10,000 or more members, so the efforts of the Trump administration have made a significant impact in slowing down the activity of a gang that engages primarily in human and drug trafficking, as well as other heinous crimes such as child prostitution.
At least 30 percent of the suspects arrested in Operation Raging Bull crossed the southern border illegally at some point. So while the success of this operation is an important step forward in enforcing American immigration law, it needs to be complemented with the construction of an effective border barrier and better immigration policies, or else dangerous gangs like MS-13 will simply import more gang members to take the place of those who were arrested in Operation Raging Bull.