Teaming up to Prosecute MS-13 Means Little Without Cooperation on Border Security

Last week, a federal grand jury in California indicted 17 alleged MS-13 gang members on federal racketeering conspiracy, attempted murder, assault, and weapons charges. The indictments, which were the result of a joint investigation conducted by state and federal officials, underscore how important cooperation is to securing justice for victims of crime.

Another example came in late December when federal and local law enforcement officials detailed charges against nearly 100 MS-13 members and associates in Long Island, New York. Like California, New York State politicians have embraced radical immigration policies that have fed the growth of MS-13 and other criminal gangs on Long Island. In fact, the resettlement of a large number of Central American unaccompanied alien minors has resulted in more than two dozen murders by MS-13 gang members since 2016.

Collaboration between law enforcement agencies has helped to secure victories in the battle against MS-13, but the war will be lost if there is no cooperation on securing the border across which many gangs enter the country.

 “From Oct through Feb, Border Patrol agents have encountered and arrested 256 gang members. These groups are a persistent threat to the US and a source of dangerous crime in your communities. MS-13, 18th Street, Surenos, and Paisas are a few of those we’ve encountered,” tweeted U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney S. Scott on March 10. A 27-year veteran of the Border Patrol, Scott was named to lead the CBP in January.

A cursory review of recent CBP news releases demonstrates MS-13 and other gang members continue to attempt illegal border crossings on a regular basis.

On March 5, 2020, Border Patrol Agents and local law enforcement in Alpine, Texas, apprehended Irving Aldemar, who claimed he was from Guatemala but it was later determined he was from El Salvador and also an MS-13 gang member. Days earlier, agents in Calexico, California, arrested an admitted MS-13 member with a long criminal history.

In February, agents in California’s El Centro sector detained an illegal alien whom they learned was a 33-year-old Guatemalan national and self-admitted MS-13 gang member with an extensive immigration and criminal record. Two weeks later, agents in the same sector came across another admitted MS-13 member, this time a 40-year-old Salvadoran national with a long criminal history.

But the most chilling of the recent arrests of those affiliated with MS-13 occurred last week in Montgomery County, Maryland, which is a sanctuary county.

According to Kevin Lewis of WJLA-TV, on March 5, Montgomery County Police responded to a call reporting a rape in progress. When they arrived at the scene, they found Jose Lopez-Gonzalez, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, raping a woman on a stairwell.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also confirms that the illegal alien had been deported in November 2007, and then again in February 2010. Thanks to the sanctuary policies embraced in Montgomery County, he had been living freely and working as a carpenter until his arrest. While ICE has lodged an immigration detainer with Montgomery County, it is unclear whether the sanctuary county will cooperate or just let the cycle of violence continue.

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