Immigration officials rounded up and arrested a stunning 267 MS-13 gang members in a single operation, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.
According to a CBS News report, the arrests came as a result of a joint sting operation called Operation Matador, led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations team.
A total of 214 MS-13 members were arrested in the United States, along with 53 members in El Salvador.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the arrests an “important step” for the Trump administration.
"President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to reduce crime and take down transnational criminal organizations, and we will be relentless in our pursuit of these objectives," Sessions said. "That's why I have ordered our drug-trafficking task forces to use every law available to arrest, prosecute, convict and defund MS-13. These 267 arrests are the next step toward making this country safer by taking MS-13 off of our streets for good."
President Trump has been very vocal about his desire to rid America of the MS-13 gang throughout his time in office, drawing criticisms from immigration advocates who say the new policies could lead to racial profiling.
The President has the support of immigration officials including ICE Acting Director Tom Homan, who told CBS News that the new policies help him and his team prioritize every individual entering the country illegally, not just the ones committing other crimes.
“People can make allegations all day long," Homan said in response to allegations of the strict policies being a means for racial profiling. "I got 20,000 American patriots that work for ICE. These are men and women who do their job honorably. They get up every morning, strap a gun to their hip and leave the safety of their homes and their families to protect communities, to protect people they'll never meet and they'll never know.”