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Friday, January 15th, 2021

ORS initiative nets Central America transnational crime charges

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Department of Justice officials said an Operation Regional Shield (ORS)-centered effort recently resulted in charges against members of Central America transnational criminal organizations.

Per authorities, the charges were primarily levied against MS-13 and 18th Street gangs in conjunction with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras law enforcement personnel.

The ORS combats transnational organized crime via gang prosecutors and investigators from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States, coordinating multi-country investigations and simultaneous takedowns throughout the region.

“The U.S. Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners in Central America are committed to continued collaboration in locating and arresting gang members and associates engaged in transnational crimes,” U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr said. “Our countries are made safer by working together to protect national security and to ensure public safety in our neighborhoods.”

The work scope involved prosecutors in El Salvador filing criminal charges against 1,152 members of organized crime groups in the country; in Guatemala, the Anti-Extortions Prosecution Office, the Prosecutor’s Office against Transnational Crimes, the Special Unit against Transnational Gangs, and police officers executed 80 search warrants, arrested 40 individuals and served 29 arrest warrants against individuals already in custody. In Honduras, ORS joint operation took place in different phases during a one-week period resulted in the arrest of over 75 MS-13 and 18th Street gang members and five police officers and the execution of over 10 search warrants.

“Since 2017, we have taken a joint and coordinated approach as northern triangle countries with our strategic partner, the United States of America,” Attorney General Raul Melara of El Salvador said. “To give our Salvadoran people a response and ensure that criminals face justice, we have strengthened the work of our Specialized Prosecution Units.”