Action Targets Leaders of the One of the Most Dangerous Criminal Gangs Worldwide
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated three members of the notorious Central American gang known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13581, which targets transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and their supporters. The individuals designated today are Salvadoran nationals José Luís Mendoza Figueroa, Eduardo Erazo Nolasco, and Élmer Canales Rivera. Today’s action is part of the Treasury Department’s ongoing efforts to target the leadership of global criminal organizations that pose significant threats to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. As a result of today’s action, all assets of these individuals that are based in the United States or in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
“MS-13 ranks among the most dangerous and rapidly expanding criminal gangs worldwide, and poses a direct threat to communities across the United States and throughout Central America,” said John E. Smith, Acting Director of OFAC. “MS-13’s activities — from sex and drug trafficking, to kidnapping and murder — are reprehensible and must be stopped. Today’s designation will disrupt these illicit activities and help to further protect the United States and international financial system from abuse.”
In October 2012, MS-13 became the first transnational criminal street gang to be designated by the Treasury Department as a TCO. MS-13 is comprised of approximately 30,000 members throughout Central America, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. MS-13 is also active within the United States, with at least 8,000 members operating in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia. MS-13 has been involved in serious criminal activity, including human smuggling, sex trafficking, drug trafficking, kidnapping, murder, racketeering, blackmail, extortion, and immigration offenses.
The three individuals designated today are members of local “cliques” within the larger MS-13 criminal network. Local MS-13 cliques take direction from the group’s foreign leadership for strategic decisions involving moves into new territories and efforts to recruit new members. Money generated by local MS-13 cliques in the United States is consolidated and funneled to the group’s leadership in El Salvador.
José Luís Mendoza Figueroa is one of the founding members of MS-13 and is a member of the Seven & Eleven Locos clique. Eduardo Erazo Nolasco is a member of the Western Locos clique. Élmer Canales Rivera is a member of the Hollywood Locos clique. All three individuals remain incarcerated in El Salvador but continue to direct MS-13 activities from prison.
Today’s action was supported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and is part of a larger effort by the Treasury Department to collaborate with authorities in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to combat the activities of MS-13.
Penalties for violations of E.O. 13581 range from civil monetary penalties of up to $250,000 or twice the amount of the underlying transaction. The penalties may be imposed against any person who violates or intends to violate the E.O. Upon conviction, criminal penalties of up to $1 million, imprisonment for up to 20 years, or both, may be imposed on any person who willfully commits or attempts to commit a violation.
For a chart related to today’s action, click here.
For identifying information regarding the individuals designated today, click here.