Politics

Virginia Gang Task Force Chief Warns MS-13 Has ‘Overwhelmed’ the Resources

Jay Lanham says 'propensity for violence is very high' and 'it's difficult' for law enforcement officials in the area to handle it

Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force Executive Director Jay Lanham warned Wednesday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” that MS-13 “is the fastest-growing gang in the United States,” and its “propensity for violence is very high.”

Lanham’s comments aren’t likely to please illegal immigration apologists who may try to minimize the danger MS-13 poses to American communities. There are an estimated 10,000 MS-13 gang members in the U.S., The New York Times reported.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham pointed to the harrowing high-speed car chase in Houston, Texas, Tuesday night, when local police went after an MS-13 gang member accused of kidnapping a 14-year-old.

The man, Luvin S. Reyes Sanchez, was charged with kidnapping and evading arrest Wednesday.

Ingraham also highlighted a Friday story from The Washington Post. It detailed how MS-13 was “taking over” an entire school in New York’s Suffolk County, noting that MS-13 reportedly has committed 27 murders in that area since a wave of unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors began arriving in 2013.

“Critics claim that the Trump administration is targeting MS-13 to demonize immigrants for, you know, importing crime. Statistics, though, do not lie,” Ingraham said.

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President Donald Trump cited the dangers of MS-13 during a campaign rally in Pennsylvania over the weekend and claimed that Democratic lawmakers “like to protect criminals” because “they like to protect MS-13.”

“The only thing I hate to say, not so politically correct — but the only thing these gang members understand is toughness,” Trump said.

Lanham agreed, noting that the influx of MS-13 gang members into Northern Virginia “has just overwhelmed the resources in the area.”

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“The violent crime has just been unheard of, unlike what anyone would expect to ever see,” Lanham said, noting that machetes are MS-13 gang members’ “favorite weapon of choice.”

Lanham pinned a large part of the blame for the growing MS-13 numbers on the wave of unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors.

“We’ve seen that over the last two to three years in the amount of violent crime being committed by juveniles, which we didn’t used to see,” Lanham said. “So there have been so many of these kids that have come into the community. They’re scared to death they’re put into schools. Some of them don’t even read and write their own language.”

“And these gang members know this. They prey upon them. They exploit the weaknesses, the lack of a family structure, relationship issues. They exploit all of it,” Lanham continued.

MS-13 gang members are even more dangerous because of their drug cartel connections, Lanham said.

Related: Think Tank Says Unaccompanied Minors Have Fueled MS-13 Revival

“MS-13 started because they were protecting themselves from the Mexican Mafia. Now we are finding they tend to work with the Mexican Mafia because the cartels are pushing the drugs across the border, including the heroin and the fentanyl,” Lanham said.

Law enforcement officers are often overwhelmed by such brutal levels of violence, Lanham said, noting that “it’s difficult.”

“It’s a fact — MS-13 is the fastest-growing gang in the United States. And the propensity for violence is very high,” Lanham said.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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