DOWN ON VIOLENT GANGS
International Effort Nets 650 Arrests
cooperation with our local, state, federal, and
partners, the FBI’s MS-13
National Gang Task Force (NGTF) coordinated a series
of arrests and crackdowns across the nation and
throughout Mexico and Central America this week.
The operation resulted in a series of arrests,
searches, detentions, and other law enforcement
actions. At the conclusion of the operation, more
than 650 individuals had been taken into custody.
Law enforcement agencies in five nations participated
in the operation targeting members of Mara Salvatrucha-13
and similar violent gangs. Most of the arrests
were made Wednesday, with more than 6,400 police
officers, federal agents and other officials taking
part in 12 states and five countries: the U.S.,
El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.
“The gangs are organizing internationally,
and so are we,” said Chris Swecker, FBI assistant
director in charge of our Criminal Investigative
Division, discussing the operations Thursday. He
called the operations “historic and unprecedented
the United States, 73 individuals were arrested
a range of charges, including immigration violations.
In El Salvador, more than 237 individuals were
arrested, in addition to 162 in Honduras, 98 in
Guatemala and 90 in the Mexican state of Chiapas.
Police in each country conducted separate operations
coordinated through the FBI’s MS-13 NGTF.
Law enforcement officials recovered at least one
weapon possibly linked to a murder during the raids,
as well as numerous other weapons and drugs, Swecker
FBI’s MS-13 NGTF was established last
year to help coordinate and focus law enforcement
efforts to combat MS-13 and similar gangs. There
are an estimated 10,000 MS-13 members in the United
States and an additional 50,000 in El Salvador,
Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.
Members of MS-13 have been identified in 33 states,
the District of Columbia, Mexico and Central America.
In the United States, the largest concentrations
are in California, Northern Virginia, and New York.
“We are very happy with the cooperative effort by the U.S. in fighting
the so-called Mara, or gangs,” said Hector Salazar-Ochoa, captain in the
Guatemalan National Civil Police. He and representatives from the other participating
nations appeared with Swecker at FBI headquarters to announce results of the
“The ultimate goal of the task force is
to dismantle MS-13 and disrupt the threat it poses
to our domestic and national security,” Swecker
said. The arrests—as well as searches, detentions,
and other actions taken this week—were not
a culmination of a particular investigation, but
part of an ongoing battle against the gangs.
the United States, the arrests involved over
officers from more than 30 state and local
law enforcement agencies and officials from the
FBI, the Bureau of Prisons; Immigration and Customs
Enforcement; Customs and Border Patrol; the Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the
U.S. Marshals Service; and the Drug Enforcement
Agency. Additionally, agents from the Department
of State’s Diplomatic Security Service provided
assistance in the coordination of the foreign operations.
“By bringing together resources from the
local, state, federal and international law enforcement
community, all levels of U.S. law enforcement and
our international partners are working together
and sharing information,” Swecker said. “This
represents a beginning, another step in an ongoing
national and international effort to go on offense
and to strike back against gang violence.”