Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas have apprehended two MS-13 gang members and a migrant convicted of a sex crime against a child — the latest instance of criminals arrested at the border amid fears of criminals getting into the U.S. by exploiting the border crisis.
Agents in McAllen apprehended a Honduran migrant on Wednesday who was discovered to have affiliations with MS-13, and then hours later apprehended a migrant from Guatemala who was determined to be an MS-13 gang member from a criminal records check, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a release.
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According to CBP, he was also discovered to have a prior arrest in Miami, Florida, for false statements when applying for a passport and was sentenced to eight months in jail.
On Thursday, McAllen agents arrested a Salvadoran national who had a prior arrest in L.A. for forcible oral copulation with a minor under the age of 14, for which he had been convicted and sentenced to 12 years in jail.
The announcement comes amid concerns that criminal illegal immigrants, including gang members, are exploiting the crisis at the southern border to attempt to enter the country past overwhelmed Border Patrol agents.
So far in FY 2021, Border Patrol has arrested 7,830 criminal illegal immigrants, compared to 2,438 in FY 2020 and 4,269 in FY 2019. That includes more than 4,000 convictions for illegal entry or re-entry, but also includes 393 convictions for sex offenses — up from 156 in FY 2020 and 58 in FY 2019.
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Meanwhile there have been 71 arrests of MS-13 gang members in FY 2021 as of the end of June, compared to 72 in all of FY 2020, and down significantly from 464 in FY 2019.
MS-13, also called Mara Salvatrucha, was set up in Los Angeles by Central American immigrants and has expanded into Northern Triangle countries like El Salvador and Guatemala. It is known for horrific crimes, and its motto is said to be “mata, viola, controla” – which means “kill, rape, control.”
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Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland this week asking about the status of a Trump-era MS-13 task force, and expressed concern that the lower number of MS-13 apprehensions was not due to fewer MS-13 members trying to get in, but that more were sneaking past Border Patrol.
“The obvious logical conclusion is that MS-13 members are successfully avoiding identification and sneaking past Border Patrol into the country, as agents focus their time and attention on dealing with unaccompanied children at the border or asylum seekers,” he wrote in a letter to Garland.
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Grassley pointed to remarks by Laredo Sector Chief Patrol Agent Matthew Hudak, who in May said that Border Patrol arrested five gang members in one week, including an MS-13 gang member and two gang members belonging to the 18th Street gang.
But even with the status of the task force unknown, there has still been action against MS-13 members by the federal government. On Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced that the government charged four MS-13 members on a conspiracy that included multiple murders, kidnapping and burglaries.
Last week, a federal grand jury indicted nine MS-13 gang members on a 60-count indictment with charges including murder, kidnapping and assault after a federal investigation led to their arrests.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.