The notorious MS13 street gang based in El Salvador has rapidly spread into 31 U.S. states and raised enough concern for the Justice Department to create a new high-level task force to battle it, says the Christian Science Monitor. Task force chief Robert Clifford says the gang has no Al Qaeda connections, despite comments made Monday by El Salvador’s president.
Clifford says that in the past two years there has been a rapid expansion of MS13 branches throughout the United States. There have been 18 MS13-related killings in North Carolina, 11 in Northern Virginia, and at least eight in Los Angeles. Members are showing up in places as disparate as Boston and Omaha, Neb. The FBI task force set up to deal with the problem, which will be based in Washington, D.C., was quietly created two months ago. Clifford has served 17 years with the FBI, most recently as the legal attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Athens and chief of FBI operations for the region stretching from Albania and Bulgaria to Lebanon and Syria.