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ICE director on historic MS-13 takedown: 'I don't think the gangs are very concerned about COVID'

'Their goal is to take control of the streets and control their people and get their money' – acting ICE Director Matthew Albence

Updated: July 16, 2020 - 4:28pm

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In the wake of a Trump administration's crackdown of senior leaders of the violent MS-13 gang, Matthew Albence, acting director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Wednesday that gangs have shown no signs of slowing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I don't think the gangs are very concerned about COVID," Albence told Just the News during an interview at the White House, where he joined President Trump for an announcement of the takedown. "If you look at what MS-13 does, they are going to commit their atrocities regardless of what is going on around them in the world. Their goal is to take control of the streets and control their people and get their money."

Albence said the number of ICE criminal investigations have risen every year over the past three years. 

"So there's no shortage of information out there," he said. "There's no shortage of crime that we're out there going after and we're doing it effectively and efficiently."

He spoke after the administration announced that it is filing to seek the death penalty for a MS-13 leader who was charged with seven murders, including the machete and baseball bat killings of two high school students.

MS-13 is international criminal gang that started as far back as the late 1970s with early roots in El Salvador and Los Angeles.

Eight MS-13 members were indicted last week for their involvement with six murders, two attempted murders, kidnapping, and narcotics and firearms offenses.

On July 9, thirteen MS-13 members were charged in a 21-count indictment, including narcotics distribution and weapons charges.

"We’re here today to provide an update on my administration’s all-out campaign to destroy MS-13, a vile and evil gang of people," Trump said at the White House. "We’ve just concluded a historic operation, leading to the arrest and indictment of dozens of savage MS-13 members and leaders all across the country.  So this is something that’s taken place over the last few days.

The administration recently indicted a former leader of MS-13 who reportedly committed multiple terrorism offenses and directed acts of violence, murder, and drug trafficking. This marks the first time that an MS-13 member has been charged with terrorism offenses in the United States.

"We’re using 'terrorism,' which gives us extra strength," Trump said.

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