By Alice Giordano
Members of the notorious MS-13 gang, as well as several terrorists, including one linked to al-Qaeda and another to Tren de Aragua, Venezuela’s largest criminal organization, have recently been arrested by immigration officials in U.S. cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Chicago.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) records, they were all living in the United States illegally and were released by detention centers under the Biden administration despite previous convictions for violent crimes, including murder.
The latest arrest occurred just last week, involving an MS-13 gang member from El Salvador who had been convicted in 2023 of being an accessory after the fact in a first-degree murder case and was sentenced to five years in prison.
According to Darius Reeves, acting field director of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Baltimore, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge suspended most of his sentence, ignored an immigration detainer issued against the Salvadoran national, and instead ordered his release into the general public.
“This unlawfully present Salvadoran gang member’s presence in the United States represents a threat to the safety and security of our residents,” Mr. Reeves stated. “Not only is he a validated member of a notorious criminal enterprise, but he also aided other criminals in the commission of a murder. ERO Baltimore will continue to apprehend and remove such criminal elements from our Maryland communities.”
An ICE spokesman told The Epoch Times that the name of the 30-year-old MS-13 gang member, who initially entered the United States illegally near Falfurrias, Texas, is being withheld pending a removal order, as mandated by federal law.
Two days after the MS-13 gang member’s arrest, Patrick Lechleitner, President Biden’s acting ICE director, admitted that last year, a Somali terrorist from the Islamic military group al-Shabaab was accidentally released after being found living illegally in the United States. He had been freely roaming until his re-arrest on January 20 in Minneapolis.
According to the National Counterterrorism Center, al-Shabaab has killed more U.S. citizens than any other al-Qaeda affiliate. It reportedly has between 7,000 and 10,000 members, according to the federal agency. The group lists its main targets as U.S. military forces and is known to attack civilian targets such as hotels, shopping malls, universities, and busy intersections.
Members of other foreign terrorist organizations have also been discovered living illegally in the United States recently. Last month, a man from Bangladesh, convicted of attempting to provide material support to an unnamed foreign terrorist organization, was deported from the United States. He had been found living in the country illegally more than eight years ago.
According to ICE records, Rakin Islam Chowdhury was granted temporary permission to remain in the United States on June 5, 2015. This authorization expired on Dec. 4, 2015.
Recent reports from Chicago have highlighted the presence of dangerous illegal immigrants in the United States, where law enforcement has allegedly discovered a cell operated by Tren de Aragua. This gang, known in English as the Aragua Train, is considered the largest criminal organization in Venezuela and is primarily engaged in sex trafficking.
Telemundo Chicago Investiga wrote in a Jan. 22, 2024, article that it had obtained communications between Willow Springs, Illinois, police chief Garry McCarthy and the Cook County Sheriff’s Department in Los Angeles, California, showing growing concerns about gang operations in their communities.
Neither Mr. McCarthy nor the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department responded to multiple inquiries from The Epoch Times. A Telemundo report featured an email sent by the Cook County Sheriff.
“I wanted to give you a heads-up about a new threat developing among the newly arriving immigrant community,” the email stated. “There is a gang from Venezuela known as Tren de Aragua. This gang has strong human trafficking operations in Latin America and is likely engaged in sex and labor trafficking in the United States. Multiple agencies have confirmed their presence in the United States.”
The email includes a redacted source that claims to have “information that the gang is here in Chicago.”
In another report, Mr. McCarthy told Telemundo that law enforcement is having a hard time identifying gang members as they cross the border because Venezuela does not share criminal records with the United States.
“We do not have data on them because I am sure that if it is Venezuela, it does not share it with the United States. So you can’t connect dots when we don’t have points,” Mr. McCarthy told Telemundo.
In September, Interpol put out a red notice to law enforcement worldwide to be on the lookout for Tren de Aragua boss Héctor Guerrero Flores after he escaped from a prison in Venezuela.
On Monday, Borderreport.com quoted former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ammon Blair as saying Venezuela has become a “significant concern along the US-Mexico border.”
An ICE spokesman told The Epoch Times that the agency has encountered members of the Venezuelan gang, but did not yet have anything that could be released. Telemundo reported that Border Patrol confirmed that at least 38 members have been arrested around the United States in the past year and that all of their points of entry were in El Paso, Texas.
Several other members of MS-13, short for Mara Salvatrucha, have also appeared on ICE’s radar after crossing the Texas border.
In 2022, another MS-13 member who entered the United States illegally through Texas under the Biden administration’s open border policy, allegedly raped and killed Kayla Hamilton just days before she turned 20.
According to an investigation into Kayla’s murder by the Committee on the Judiciary and the Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement, the then 16-year-old gang member was housed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the same foster home where Kayla was living. Kayla was autistic, but trying to transition to a life of independence.
The Republican-led committee concluded its investigation with a report blaming Kayla’s murder on the “Biden administration’s radical open-borders policies.”
The report highlighted that, in addition to an already lengthy criminal history, the Salvadoran minor had MS-13-specific tattoos, which should have alerted border government officials to his affiliation and led to him being flagged for deportation.
Kayla’s mother Tammy Nobles has filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against both HHS and the Department of Homeland Security.
In a press release announcing the suit, Ms. Noble’s attorney Brian Claypool, claims that another illegal immigrant was placed in charge of housing Kayla and her alleged murderer in the same home and that the MS-13 gang member was released to his custody.
“We’re bringing this lawsuit because we’re tired of being held hostage in our own country. We’re tired of DHS playing Russian roulette with our lives,” Mr. Claypool said in a Facebook post.
According to the judiciary committee’s investigation, the MS-13 gang member was originally apprehended at the Texas border on March 23, 2022, and referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The ORR is a program run by the HHS’s administration for children and families and helps minor children who are not from the United States become what it calls “integrated members of American society.”
The recent reports of terrorists and gang members coming into the United States at the Texas border come amidst a recent Supreme Court ruling that Texas could not block the passage of illegal immigrants into the United States.
Texas is refusing to recognize the order, which has created a standoff between Texas law enforcement and federal border agents.
The report also comes amidst a controversial Senate bipartisan bill that seeks to allow up to 4,000 daily crossings by migrants before a cap is considered.
“Only a fool, or a radical left Democrat, would vote for this horrendous border bill,” former President Donald Trump posted on Truth Social on Monday.