President Trump recently singled out Los Angeles–bred gang MS-13 for a crackdown on undocumented criminals. The remarks at a speech in Long Island, New York, continued the president’s obsession with a gang that has otherwise dipped below the radar in the last decade. Experts say the publicity could actually attract more youths to Mara Salvatrucha.
Trump warned of an increase in crime related to the gang. He used a Suffolk County community besieged by 17 gang murders in almost as many months as the backdrop for a speech Friday on the crackdown. But there’s no evidence MS has been on a warpath nationwide, has increased its numbers, or has more undocumented members than other Latino gangs. Trump continued to wrongly suggest the gang is a south-of-the-border product motivated northward by weak border security.
“For many years, they exploited America’s weak borders and lax immigration enforcement to bring drugs and violence to cities and towns all across America,” he said. “They’re there right now because of weak political leadership, weak leadership, weak policing, and in many cases because the police weren’t allowed to do their job. I’ve met police that are great police that aren’t allowed to do their job because they have a pathetic mayor or a mayor doesn’t know what’s going on.”
“Look at Los Angeles,” Trump said. “Look at what’s going on in Los Angeles.”
In the Los Angeles Police Department’s Olympic Division, where MS-13 started in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and where it still finds a home base, homicide is down nearly 17 percent compared with the same time last year, according to LAPD data. Rape is down 47 percent compared with…
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