The violent MS-13 gang has "literally taken over towns and cities" in America, President Donald Trump said Thursday amid further talks on a Mexico border wall, but his statement is largely unsubstantiated.
Trump's remarks came during a meeting with the president of Colombia, where cartel-based violence is a major issue.
However, CNN pointed out there are no statistics to back up Trump's claim that cartels and gangs have "literally taken over towns and cities" in the U.S. The broadcaster also noted MS-13 "remains a small fraction of the overall gang problem in the U.S., per available statistics."
MS-13, an international criminal gang that started in Los Angeles, has been mentioned several times by the Trump administration as it justifies the need for a border wall, but their numbers in the U.S. are unclear.
"The departments of Justice and Homeland Security have been unable to provide reporters with any estimates of how many MS-13 members nationwide came into the U.S. illegally — and how many members joined the gang after coming to the U.S.," CNN reported.
Still, while illegal immigration into the U.S. has declined with Trump in office, that hasn't been the case for drugs that continue to flow into the country.
"The drug epidemic is poisoning too many American lives, and we’re going to stop it in many different ways," Trump said. "One of them will be the wall."
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