A new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation has arrested 39 gang members affiliated with the MS-13 gang in the New York City area in the last month.
ICE announced Wednesday that its newly launched Operation Matador and the DHS's Transnational Organized Crime Initiative has busted a total of 45 gang members and affiliates — including 39 men affiliated with the notorious El Salvadorian transnational group MS-13.
Twenty-seven of those arrested came from El Salvador, 11 from Honduras, five from Mexico and two from Guatemala.
Thirty-three of the detainees were busted in Suffolk County, N.Y., which has become the epicenter of MS-13 violence in the last two years.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini told the Senate Homeland Security Committee last month that the gang has been linked to 38 percent of all of the homicides in the county over the last 16 months.
In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Central Islip, N.Y., and vowed to eradicate the gang. Just weeks before his visit, the bodies of four young men were found dead in an area park.
President Trump has also pledged to take down MS-13.
ICE formed Operation Matador with Homeland Security Investigations, the NYPD, the Suffolk County Police Department and the Nassau County Police Department in May.
"Transnational gangs like MS-13 bring nothing but violence and conflict to our communities and their presence will not be tolerated. Their vicious criminal activities present an ongoing challenge for law enforcement everywhere," Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York, said Wednesday in a statement.
Of those arrested, 20 had prior criminal history. Twelve of those confirmed as MS-13 gang members had crossed the border as unaccompanied minors.
ICE said those not criminally prosecuted will be "processed for removal from the country."