Attorney General William P. Barr, along with President Donald J. Trump, announce key cases from the Vulcan Joint Task Force
The operation is a coordinated effort to disassemble and destroy MS-13
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Donald J. Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr announced significant cases related to the Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), an initiative launched in August 2019 that aims to disrupt MS-13 to degrade and ultimately destroy.
President Trump and Attorney General Barr announced a number of significant cases related to Operation Vulcan, including the first time an MS-13 member has been charged with terrorist crime, a coordinated abolition of the leadership of the Hollywood clique of MS in several districts -13 and the Attorney General's decision to apply for capital punishment against an MS-13 defendant.
"The President directed the Department of Justice to go to war with MS-13 in 2017, and that's exactly what we did," said Attorney General Barr. "In coordination with our partners in the Department of Homeland Security, the law enforcement agencies of the Department of Justice have successfully investigated and arrested MS-13 command and control elements responsible for murder. The operations of the Vulcan Joint Task Force have significantly affected MS-13 capabilities. While much remains to be done, the Department of Justice is still committed to protecting the Americans at risk from MS-13 and we will not rest until we have successfully defeated this transnational criminal organization. "
"Today's announcements are the result of tremendous teamwork and coordination between prosecutors and law enforcement officers in the United States and Central America," said JTFV director John Durham. “MS-13 is a violent transnational criminal organization whose criminal activities have no limits. The only way to defeat MS-13 is to target the organization as a whole, focus on its governance structure, and pursue a state-wide approach against a common enemy. "
In a charge that was not sealed yesterday, Melgar Diaz in the eastern district of Virginia was accused of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Conspiracy to kill or maim overseas; Conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism across national borders; Conspiracy to finance terrorism; and conspiracy to engage in narcotic terrorism in addition to conspiracy and drug trafficking. It is the first time that an MS-13 member has been charged with terrorist offenses.
Alexi Saenz was indicted in the Eastern District of New York in 2017. It is believed that he committed seven murders between 2016 and 2017: January 28, 2016, murder of Michael Johnson; April 29, 2016, murder of Oscar Acosta; on September 13, 2016, murders of Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens; October 10, 2016, murder of Javier Castillo; October 13, 2016, murder of Dewann Stacks; and January 30, 2017, murder of Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla. Two of the victims were students from Brentwood High School who were killed with a machete and a baseball bat. The attorney general has filed a letter of intent to impose the death penalty on Saenz.
In a charge of 24 counts unsealed yesterday, the Eastern District of New York indicted eight MS-13 members, including heads of the East Coast Hollywood program Bully Affected and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) and Violent crimes in favor of racketeering (VICAR) Charges related to six murders, two attempted murders, kidnappings, narcotics and related firearms offenses.
In a charge of 21 charges that was lifted in the Nevada district yesterday, 13 MS-13 members, including leaders of the Hollywood Locos clique and the Los Angeles Program, were charged with various crimes, including narcotics by Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE) sales and weapons fees.
In August 2019, Attorney General Barr created the Vulcan Joint Task Force to implement the recommendations of the MS-13 subcommittee formed under the Attorney General's Task Force Transnational Organized Crime. This was the result of President Trump's Executive Order of February 2017 to head the Department of Justice, State and Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of the National Secret Service to coordinate a state-wide approach to dismantling and restoring security to transnational criminal organizations like MS-13 american people. The main purpose of JTFV is to coordinate and direct the efforts of the Department of Justice and U.S. law enforcement agencies against MS-13 to dismantle the group.
The JTFV has successfully implemented the state-wide law enforcement approach to MS-13. increased coordination and cooperation with foreign law enforcement partners, including El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala; nominated MS-13 priority programs, cliques and leaders that have the greatest impact on the United States for targeted law enforcement activities; and coordinated major MS-13 lawsuits in US law firms across the country, such as the Eastern District of New York, the Eastern District of Virginia and the District of Nevada.
Prosecutors from the Department of Justice's National Security Division and the Criminal Police Department's Organized Crime and Gang Division, as well as 10 US law firms, were assigned to serve the JTFV full-time: the Eastern District of New York; the eastern district of Virginia; the Nevada district; the southern district of California; the Massachusetts District; the northern district of Ohio; the New Jersey District; the eastern district of Texas; the Utah district; and the District of Columbia. In addition, all law enforcement agencies of the Department of Justice are involved in the effort – the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the drug enforcement administration; the office for alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives; the US Marshal Service; and the Bureau of Prisons. The Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigations also played a crucial role at JTFV.
Attorney General Barr also thanks Attorney General Raul Melara from El Salvador for supporting his office and the investigators from the Policia Nacional Civil Division of Centro Antipandilla Transnacional in El Salvador for their support.