The Veracity of President Trump’s “Outlandish” MS-13 Claims
Mara Salvatrucha 13, known colloquially as MS-13, is a criminal gang with significant operations in the United States and Central America’s “Northern Triangle” – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Known for full-body tattoos and extreme violence, the gang is also suspected of engaging in transnational illicit enterprises across Australia, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Peru and South Korea. Its official motto is “Kill, Rape, Control.”At the end of October 2018, President Trump suggested that one of the reasons the migrant caravan, camped out on the U.S./Mexico border, presents a threat to Americans is that it has been infiltrated by MS-13 gang members. However, the mainstream media derisively laughed off any suggestions that gang members might have joined the caravan in order to use it for cover.On October 23, 2018, Politico accused the president of “whipping up a frenzy” on the migrant caravan. Meanwhile, on October 25, the Washington Post “Fact Checker” segment ran a piece titled “A Caravan of Phony Claims from the Trump Administration” claiming that the President’s assertions about the migrant convoy and gang infiltrators are nothing more than “outlandish claims.”Well, it turns out President Trump’s claims were neither frenzied nor outlandish:
- On November 28, 2018, the Border Patrol announced that it had arrested Honduran caravanner Jose Villalobos-Jobel who illegally entered the United States near the Calexico port of entry. By his own admission, Villalobos is an active member of MS-13.
- Shortly thereafter, on November 30, 2018, the Border Patrol announced that it apprehended Wuilson Lazo-Ramos another Honduran MS-13 member who traveled with the caravan. Lazo entered the U.S. illegally, near Tucson. In addition to being a gang member, he was previously convicted of weapons offenses in Maricopa County, Arizona.
- “[I]n the United States, MS-13 is a fragmented organization without a clear hierarchy,” consisting of nothing more than “a federation of teenage barrio”
- The decentralized nature of the gang, “limits collective action, making it difficult for them to carry out large-scale criminal activities and bring in steady revenue.”
- Therefore, it isn’t dangerous and President Trump is an alarmist xenophobe.
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