The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) bagged the senior MS-13 leader for the Northeast U.S. along with 11 other high-ranking members of the gang in a Thursday crackdown operation, the New York Post reported.
The 17 defendants — five of whom are not MS-13 members — are facing charges including second-degree murder, drug trafficking, and conspiracy. They face up to 25 years in prison if convicted, the Post reported Thursday. The unnamed Long Island-based leader operated two cells, code-named “Hollywood” and “Sailors.” He reported and transferred proceeds directly to MS-13 heads in El Salvador, according to the DEA.
“It started as a small-scale drug investigation on Long Island, a DEA investigation which is still growing, and as it went along and we brought other agencies on, we saw a violent threat that pushed us to get even more agencies involved and eventually apprehend this regional leader of MS-13,” DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said in a statement. “Not only did we arrest the highest-level Mara Salvatrucha leader in the Northeast who reports to MS-13 in El Salvador, but we sent a message that we will continue to investigate their violent crimes and bring justice to their victims.”
The crackdown is the most recent operation against MS-13 since President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have made it a top priority to bring down the cartel. Sessions has heavily criticized sanctuary cities as well, claiming they are sanctuaries for crime.
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