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President Trump Vows to Fight Back Against MS-13

President Trump has promised to dismantle and deport the violent MS-13 gang, as noted in a speech given in Long Island, New York on Friday. The New York suburb has been especially affected by gang violence in recent news. 

MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, is an extremely violent criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, CA. Gang members are mostly Central American in origin, with a large majority of El Salvadoran descent. MS-13 members are often recognizable by tattoos covering their entire body and often their faces. In 2012, the Obama administration sanctioned the gang as a transnational criminal organization.

Since January 2016, 17 murders in the Long Island area have been credited to the gang. In September 2016, two teenage girls were hacked to death by a machete, MS-13's weapon of choice. In April 2017, four men were lured into the woods by female gang members and killed with machetes. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have indicted 21 alleged MS-13 gang members for murder, conspiracy, assault, and extortion this year alone.

President Trump's passionate speech appeared to advocate aggressive tactics towards eradicating the gang, calling gang members "animals" and praising "rough" actions of ICE officers. Trump advised police to stop protecting gang members' heads when placing them in the back of a squad car. Trump additionally promised to find, arrest, jail and deport any gang member; implying that they are all immigrants. 

Experts believe the growth in gang violence is caused by the large numbers of unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America, who come to the United States to live with relatives and are especially vulnerable. Many end up becoming either gang members themselves or victims. The Justice Department estimates MS-13 to have approximately 30,000 members worldwide with more than 10,000 in the United States. Some estimate around 1,000 MS-13 members live in Long Island. 

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