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Trump DOJ to Seek Death Penalty for MS-13 Gang Leader

Trump DOJ to Seek Death Penalty for MS-13 Gang Leader
John Durham, Jr., Director, Joint Task Force Vulcan on July 15th 2020. Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 15 July 2020 04:17 PM

The Trump administration’s Justice Department said Wednesday that it will seek the death penalty for an alleged leader of a New York MS-13 gang accused of seven murders, including two teenage girls on Long Island in 2016.

The announcement comes a day after the federal government carried out its first execution since 2003 and comes in a case where Alexi Saenz is charged with killing 15-year-old Nisa Mickens and 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas with baseball bats and a machete a week after they had an altercation with MS-13 members.

“The DOJ has also announced that it will seek the death penalty for a blood-thirsty MS-13 leader responsible for the despicable killing of seven Americans, including two teenage girls,” President Donald Trump said in an Oval Office briefing with Attorney General William Barr and other law enforcement officials. “We think the monsters who murder children should be put to death.”

The announcement comes as part of Joint Task Force Vulcan, formed in 2017 to dismantle MS-13 – an international criminal organization that has its origins among Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles in the 1970s.

More than 40 people have been charged with various crimes including murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, racketeering, narcotics and related firearms offenses, among other crimes.

Saenz, the accused leader of the gang’s Sailors Locos Salvatruchos Westside or “Sailors” clique, was charged with 11 others in 73-count indictment in 2018 in New York, while on Tuesday eight other MS-13 members were charged in a 24-count indictment in New York and 13 more were charged in a 21-count indictment in Nevada.

In Tuesday’s indictment unsealed in New York, Melgar Diaz was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists; conspiracy to kill or maim persons overseas; conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries; conspiracy to finance terrorism, and; conspiracy to engage in narco-terrorism, in addition to racketeering conspiracy and drug trafficking. It was the first time that an MS-13 member had been charged with terrorism-related offenses.

“In 2017, the President directed the Department of Justice to go to war against MS-13, and we did just that,” Attorney General Barr said in a press release. “Joint Task Force Vulcan’s operations have significantly degraded MS-13 capabilities.”

Vulcan is under the direction of U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham, who also is conducting a review of the investigation and investigators who conducted the probe into the 2016 Trump campaign and its supposed ties to Russian government officials.

“MS-13 is a violent transnational criminal organization, whose criminal activities respect no boundaries,” Durham said. “The only way to defeat MS-13 is by targeting the organization as a whole, focusing on the leadership structure, and deploying a whole-of-government approach against a common enemy.”

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The Trump administration's Justice Department said Wednesday that it will seek the death penalty for an alleged leader of a New York MS-13 gang leader...
ms, 13, saenz, deathpenalty
Wednesday, 15 July 2020 04:17 PM
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