Twenty-two members of the Los Angeles-based MS-13 gang, a transnational criminal organization frequently decried by President Trump as a dangerous threat to American citizens, were charged on Tuesday in a federal racketeering case in California. Gang members indicted in the suit are alleged to have participated in a host of criminal activities, including the organization, coordination, and execution of seven people over the last two years.
The indictment includes four counts of first-degree murder, including one in which six of the defendants allegedly dismembered a rival gang member with machetes. One of the killers is reported to have cut out the victim’s heart.
The 22 individuals have been linked to the Fulton clique, a subset of the MS-13 gang that operates in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. It is reported that as many as 20 MS-13 subsets like this one are operating in the area. Fulton models itself after “503,” a street gang in El Salvador that was originally a part of MS-13 but broke off due to grievances over gang leadership decisions. Of the 22 charged, it is believed that 19 are currently in the country illegally.
The United States Department of Justice statement on the incident makes note of the group’s recent “influx of young immigrants from Central America.” Yet left-leaning media outlets reporting on the case, while mentioning the fact that a number of defendants are in the country illegally, have made sure to water down this fact by casting the president’s calls for tighter control of immigration at the southern border as inherently in bad faith in order to promote racist immigration policy.
In the Los Angeles Times coverage of the case, MS-13 is described as a “boogeyman” used by the president “to justify stronger enforcement,” as if Trump had gone to great pains to turn the organization into a tool for promoting his agenda rather than approaching it as a legitimate threat to the safety of American citizens.
The New York Times explains that the president has “asserted that the violence being committed by groups like MS-13 is being brought to the United States by immigrants.” The article follows this point with the sentence, “But the organization was founded in the United States and has deep roots in the country.” The implication is that this is simply a domestic problem concerning gang violence, and immigration isn’t a central factor to the case.
CNN’s report doesn’t question the president’s motives; it simply states that Trump has spoken frequently of the gang’s perniciousness. But three paragraphs into the article, an impossible-to-miss picture with a link to a related article, “How the US helped create Trump’s ‘violent animals,’ ” is presented to readers.
This coverage is an attempt to preempt anyone, especially President Trump himself, from using the incident in support of the case that illegal immigration is a problem for the United States. Left-leaning media coverage tries to qualify the grisly crimes of MS-13 members, many of whom are here illegally, with suggestions that the gang is purely a home-grown problem and the president has unfairly tied it to the immigration debate. This allows critics of the crackdown on illegal immigration to plug their ears to arguments about its real dangers and continue with their narrative that the president and his supporters’ demand for stricter border enforcement is motivated purely by bigotry and xenophobia.