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El Salvador security forces arrest 40 MS-13 gang who were planning to carry out 17 assassinations

El Salvador security forces arrest 40 MS-13 gang members, including cell leader, who were planning to carry out 17 assassinations

  • Several raids took place in three departments in El Salvador as authorities sought the arrest of 93 alleged members of the MS-13 on Frida
  • The group plotted to carry out 17 assassinations that were discovered during a six-month investigation called Operation Bálsamo 
  • Agents arrested Juan Mancía, the founder of a MS-13 cell leader that was planning the attacks
  • At least 18 gang members who were already in prison were also signaled for their involvement in the foiled plot 

Security forces in El Salvador launched a raid to arrest 93 alleged members of a MS-13 cell who were plotting to carry out 17 assassinations.

As many as 40 apprehensions were made during a series of pre-dawn raids that were carried out Friday in the departments of La Libertad, Santa Ana and San Salvador, the Attorney General’s Office said.

An additional 18 suspects who were already in prison were summoned for their roles in the murder plot. 

Authorities have not identified whether the intended targets. DailyMail.com reached out to the Security Ministry for comment.

Security forces enter a home in El Salvador on Friday while searching for alleged members of the MS-13 during an operation to arrest 93 individuals who were part of a plot to kill 17 people

Pictured above are alleged MS-13 member who were part of a plot being organized to kill 17 people in El Salvador

Pictured above are alleged MS-13 member who were part of a plot being organized to kill 17 people in El Salvador

A law enforcement agent reviews documents seized from a home during a series of raids that were carried out in the departments of La Libertad, Santa Ana and San Salvador

A law enforcement agent reviews documents seized from a home during a series of raids that were carried out in the departments of La Libertad, Santa Ana and San Salvador

The gang members are being charged with soliciting and conspiring to commit homicide, extortion, drug trafficking, and for belonging to a terrorist organization.

The investigation was part of a six-month process called ‘Operation Bálsamo’ which netted the arrest of the cell’s founder, Juan Mancía.

Authorities also detained the cell’s principal leader, Elí Jiménez; high-ranking leader, Francisco Espinoza; and cell runner, Cristian Jiménez.

Juan Miguel Mancía Mendoza, Elí Antonio Jiménez López, Cristian Vladimir Jiménez Marroquín, and Francisco Antonio Espinoza Melgar are among the highest ranking MS-13 gang members who were arrested during a pre-daw raid in El Salvador last Friday

Juan Miguel Mancía Mendoza, Elí Antonio Jiménez López, Cristian Vladimir Jiménez Marroquín, and Francisco Antonio Espinoza Melgar are among the highest ranking MS-13 gang members who were arrested during a pre-daw raid in El Salvador last Friday

A police officer inspects at bed at the home of an alleged MS-13 gang member

A police officer inspects at bed at the home of an alleged MS-13 gang member

Cops prepare to enter a residence in El Salvador during a massive sting to arrest 93 alleged MS-13 foot soldiers

Cops prepare to enter a residence in El Salvador during a massive sting to arrest 93 alleged MS-13 foot soldiers

Video footage of a raid shows the moment a National Civil Police elite unit appeared to open fire and barged inside a residence where they seized documents that linked suspects to a string of crimes. 

Agents also confiscated firearms, drugs, cellphones and cash.  

According to a Human Rights Watch 2021 World Report, local media outlets estimate that the MS-13 currently has 60,000 foot soldiers operating in the Central American nation. 

President Najib Bukele drew criticism in April 2020 after he ordered a crackdown throughout the country’s prison system after 77 killings during a three-day stretch were orchestrated by gang leaders who were locked up. 

A law enforcement agent in El Salvador inspect documents retrieved from a home during one of the many raids that were carried out before dawn Friday as authorities sought the arrest of 93 MS-13 gang members who were plotting to kill 17 people

A law enforcement agent in El Salvador inspect documents retrieved from a home during one of the many raids that were carried out before dawn Friday as authorities sought the arrest of 93 MS-13 gang members who were plotting to kill 17 people

An alleged MS-13 gang member is detained and questioned during a raid Friday in El Salvador

An alleged MS-13 gang member is detained and questioned during a raid Friday in El Salvador

Pictured above is an MS-13 alleged gang member who was detained at a home in El Salvador by security forces Friday

Pictured above is an MS-13 alleged gang member who was detained at a home in El Salvador by security forces Friday

Pictured above is one of the 29 MS-13 alleged gang member arrested Friday during a series of raids after authorities discovered a plot to murder 17 people. According to a Human Right's Watch 2021 World Report, local media outlets estimate that the MS-13 currently has 60,000 foot soldiers currently operating in the Central American nation

Pictured above is one of the 29 MS-13 alleged gang member arrested Friday during a series of raids after authorities discovered a plot to murder 17 people. According to a Human Right’s Watch 2021 World Report, local media outlets estimate that the MS-13 currently has 60,000 foot soldiers currently operating in the Central American nation

Photos were then released by authorities that showed dozens of prisoners lined up together and semi-naked at a maximum-security jail in Zacatecoluca. 

The majority of the inmates were also pictured without masks at the height of the COVID-19.

The MS-13 became a focal point former President Donald Trump’s agenda against illegal migration to the United States.

During a May 23, 2018 appearance in Bethpage, Long Island, Trump defended himself from criticism hurled by Democratic leadership after he compared previously the gang to ‘animals.’

‘I called them animals the other day and I was met with rebuke,’ Trump said. ‘They said, “They’re people.” They’re not people, these are animals and we have to be very, very tough.’ 

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