President Donald Trump spoke at the FBI Academy on Friday, and he praised the law enforcement agency, and others, for its work in taking members of the MS-13 gang off the streets.
The federal and local authorities will “destroy criminal cartels like the savages of MS-13,” Trump said on Friday.
“To any member of MS-13 listening, I have a message for you,” Trump later said. “We will find you. We will arrest you. We will jail you. We will throw you the hell out of the country. Somehow I like it better than jail, where we’d just have to take care of them. Who the hell wants to take care of them?”
Pres. Trump says he would prefer deporting MS-13 members to jailing them: "Jail, we have to take care of them. Who the hell wants to take care of them? You know, the jail stuff is wonderful, but we have to pay for it, right?" https://t.co/c2tbMl6quI pic.twitter.com/imjDQQTnub
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 15, 2017
Trump had touted the great work done by authorities to arrest MS-13 gang members and take them off the streets of the U.S. during the past year.
“The Department of Justice has worked with partners in Central America to arrest and charge roughly 4,000 MS-13 members,” Trump said, also pointing out that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) arrested nearly 800 gang members and associates – an 83-percent increase over the previous year, he added.
“We’ll get rid of ’em completely very soon. They’re working hard,” Trump said.
And, he noted, this year saw the largest crackdown on criminal gangs in the history of the United States.
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and border patrol agents arrested 1,400 suspects, and seized more than 200 illegal firearms and 600 pounds of narcotics, Trump said.
Trump had promised to purge the streets of MS-13, the notorious, violent gang that originates in El Salvador, Central America.
The MS-13 gang, or Mara Salvatrucha, has been around in El Salvador for decades. The gang formed in the United States in Salvadoran immigrant communities in Los Angels in the 1980s.
The gang first came about “as a way of protecting the Salvadoran community from the gangs of other ethnic communities and other Central American immigrants joined rapidly,” according to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Threat Assessment from 2012. “At the end of the civil wars in Central America (1996), the United States started deporting Central American immigrants convicted of certain offenses. These deportees effectively imported Los Angeles-style gang culture to the post-conflict societies of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.”
Over the years, as MS-13 has been deported from the U.S., the deportations have helped the gang grow even more in El Salvador and throughout Central America.
In 2012, there were 12,000 MS-13 gang members in El Salvador; 7,000 in Honduras; and 5,000 in Guatemala, according to the report.
Distinctive signs of the MS-13 gang include tattoos, graffiti, hand signs and slang.
The MS-13 gang historically rivals the Mara 18 gang, or M-18.