By Cristiano Lima
April 18, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday the violent MS-13 gang could qualify as a terrorist organization, and that he would support a move to label it as such.
“I think so, perhaps. I believe it could qualify for that,” Sessions said in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. “There are rules that I guess the State Department does to establish that.”
Carlson had asked Sessions whether the U.S. could take the same action as the government of El Salvador did in 2015, when it classified MS-13 as a terrorist organization. Sessions said the answer is yes — but noted that it is not within his jurisdiction to create the designation.
The crime cartel, originating from Los Angeles, has become a central target of the Trump administration’s efforts to combat gang violence.
Sessions called MS-13 “one of the most violent gangs in the history of our country” and said he believes in the Justice Department’s ability to enact countermeasures to curtail the gang’s activities.
“We can devastate this gang. We’re going after them,” he said. “We’re not going to allow them to take over a block, a corner of our communities and terrorize people with this violence.”
Earlier Tuesday, President Donald Trump praised Sessions for his work in seeking to degrade the criminal group, reiterating his campaign promise to “get tough” on crime.
“AG Sessions is doing a fantastic job: announced today new steps to dismantle violent gangs like MS-13,” Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “I promised to get tough and we are!”
The president, citing no evidence, also blamed President Barack Obama and his administration for the gang’s growth in the U.S.
“The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S. We are removing them fast!” Trump wrote on Twitter at about 5:40 a.m.
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