"How brutal murders and fear kept a town silent. MS-13 is like no other gang.”
That may sound like President Trump at one of his rallies but it’s actually the headline of an October 19 Fresno Bee story by award-winning reporter Yesenia Amaro. “MS-13 carved out a reign of terror,” she writes, “resulting in at least 14 brutal murders in and around Mendota from 2015 to 2017.” Amaro charts how this reign of terror developed, and the bloodshed MS-13 has inflicted.
“MS-13 slipped into Mendota relatively unnoticed,” Amaro notes, and “few people outside the rural town in California’s Central Valley knew MS-13 had infiltrated the area at least a decade ago.” This was not only due to relative obscurity of Mendota, with a population of some 11,000. When the gang ramped up the violence, “there was little or no media coverage on some of the murders, some of which had been initially labeled as suspicious deaths.”
Along with the gang’s extortion, kidnapping and drug trafficking, the killings “kept nearly everyone quiet, including city leaders, who failed to sound the alarm.” Even after the 25 MS-13 arrests, Mendota Mayor Rolando Castro declined to comment for Amaro’s story “citing fears for himself and his family.” Other residents spoke only on condition of anonymity, “citing fear of gang reprisals” such as the one involving Joanna Soloria Maya.
In July, 2016, before she was slated to testify in a murder case, “Joanna was hacked to death” and her body left outside an apartment complex. As Amaro noted, MS-13 has an international reputation for “brazenly leaving the bloodied, mangled corpses in the open.” Joanna’s sister Jannette told Amaro, “they are killing people out there, like they are animals.” And the MS-13 campaign of violence is “going to get worse” because law enforcement “can’t stop it.”
One longtime Mendota resident, afraid to identify himself, told Amaro the town is now called the “La Colonia Salvadoreña,” the Salvadoran colony. That raises the back stories of the gang’s reign of terror.
As Amaro explains, MS-13 members “are from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and other parts of Central and South America.” Before they quietly infiltrated Mendota, they entered the United States illegally, defying federal immigration law and easily evading the border patrol.
Federal officials led the charge in the recent arrests of 25 MS-13 members. At a Fresno press conference, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski said “the dismantling MS-13 and other violent gangs that terrorize our streets will remain a top priority of the Department of Justice.” For California’s ruling Democrats, on the other hand, MS-13 has not been a priority.
At the Fresno press conference, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said “I don’t know if you would call them human beings,” referring to those who main and scar their victims. Becerra added that his operations were not based on “labels” and the arrests were not based on “status,” only “criminal conduct.”
Once on Hillary Clinton’s short list as a running mate, Becerra supports California’s sanctuary state law that protects even criminal illegals from deportation. Governor Jerry Brown, who also supports the sanctuary law, is on record that “Donald Trump is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws of California.”
The Fresno MS-13 bust prompted no statement from the recurring governor, a three-time failed contender for president of the United States with a reputation of being soft on crime. Brown recently signed Senate Bill 1391, which forbids the prosecution of criminals ages 14-18 in adult court, whatever the gravity of their crime.
Under this law, any MS-13 member under 18 could hack Joanna Maya to death and serve only until age 25, in a comfy juvenile facility. This gives MS-13 new incentives to set up shop in California, where criminal illegals enjoy protected status.
ICE is the front-line force against MS-13 but Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chief justice of the California Supreme Court, has accused ICE of “stalking” criminal illegals in courthouses. California senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Kamala Harris is notably hostile to ICE and other Democrats want to abolish the federal agency.
The recent MS-13 bust prompted no statement from California Democrat Nancy Pelosi. In May of 2017, after President Trump denounced the gang’s bestial attacks, Pelosi invoked their “spark of divinity” as well as their “dignity and worth.”
For Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the murderous MS-13 campaign prompted no call for deportation of violent gang members or tougher border enforcement. And like many leading Democrats, former First Lady Hillary Clinton dreams of open borders.
Meanwhile, the massive caravan now marching toward the United States also favors open borders. President Trump says the caravan includes terrorists and MS-13 members, who as Yesenia Amaro notes, come from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and other parts of Central and South America.
When these criminal foreign nationals slip unnoticed into American communities they hack to death people like Joanna Maya and impose a reign of terror. So in a real sense, these criminal illegals are terrorists. As the Fresno Bee headline said, “MS-13 is like no other gang.”