A whistleblower has reportedly released documents stating that former President Barack Obama's administration allowed 16 or more MS-13 gang members to remain in the U.S. after they illegally crossed the border as teenagers.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on May 24 that he obtained the Customs and Border Protection documentation of the 2014 incident, during which Johnson said the agency caught the individuals and "knew they were MS-13 gang members," but nonetheless "processed and disbursed them into our communities," according to The Washington Times.
MS-13, also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, is said to be one of the largest gangs in the U.S., notes CNN. It is referred to as a "transnational criminal organization" and has roots in El Salvador as well as Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and other Central and South American countries. A number of high-profile crimes, including racketeering and murder, have put them on the radar of people such as President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the latter of whom has vowed to crack down on prosecuting them.
"The MS-13 mantra is kill, rape and control, and so that should tell us enough about the kind of groups we confront," Sessions said during a visit to New York, according to The New York Post. "Our motto is justice for victims and consequences for criminals. … We are targeting you. We are coming after you."
The 16 gang members Johnson said were knowingly released were some of the "unaccompanied alien children" who entered the U.S. in droves and who officials were instructed to treat as refugees, though The Washington Times reports that more than two thirds of these minors were between the ages of 15 and 17.
"This exclusive network [MS-13] smuggles gang members across the border and the gangs know if they come as unaccompanied minors, the country will transport them wherever they want to go," said Sessions, according to The Post. "This is how we are, and gang members know this is how it works, and we will handle it. Criminals who are convicted will be deported."
Sheriff Vincent DeMarco of Suffolk County, New York, met with Sessions to discuss the gang and the wave of crimes members reportedly committed, of which DeMarco said "11 bodies turned up" within the last "nine months or so" from early May.
"A large portion of the MS-13 gang members are here illegally," DeMarco added. "And they arrive in the country through the Unaccompanied Minor Program, which was really loosened up and formed under President Obama."
Sources: The Washington Times, New York Post, CNN / Photo Credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Wikimedia Commons