Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is pressing the Justice Department about its lack of updates from Joint Task Force Vulcan’s (JTFV) efforts to combat the violent street gang MS-13. JTFV was established under the prior administration to combat the serious crimes, like murder, that MS-13 members regularly commit.

“…collaborative and comprehensive law enforcement partnerships like Joint Task Force Vulcan are more important than ever before. However, the DOJ’s lack of public updates on JTFV leaves Congress and the American people with questions, including whether Task Force Vulcan still exists. This is especially frustrating considering that more and more Americans than ever are searching for a sense of safety and security amidst the recent spike in violent crime,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Because of the ongoing border crisis, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have not been able to apprehend even close to the average number of MS-13 gang members crossing the border as they have in the four most recent years.

Grassley is asking the Justice Department to provide updated information about JTFV if it still exists or an explanation for why it was disbanded if it does not.

Full text of Grassley’s letter to the Attorney General can be found HERE.

Grassley also delivered the following remarks on this topic.

Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa 

On Combatting the MS-13 Gang 

Delivered on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 

I’m greatly concerned as to whether the Biden Department of Justice is committed to fighting the violent crime committed by the gang known as MS-13.  MS-13 is a violent gang that operates on the streets of the United States, and throughout Mexico and Central America. MS-13’s informal motto is “Kill, steal, rape, control.”  

Under the Trump administration, the department established a task force to fight the murders and other serious crimes committed by MS-13 members. But, DOJ hasn’t released any news or updates on this task force, called Task Force Vulcan, since January 14, 2021, right before President Biden’s inauguration. So, we have no idea what DOJ is doing to combat MS-13. 

From 2017 to 2020, US Customs and Border Protection found or arrested over 3 million people, averaging about 750,000 people a year. In that same time period, Border Patrol apprehended an average of 294 MS-13 gang-members a year. 

This year however, CBP has already encountered or arrested over 1.2 million, well above the previous averages. But, this year, CBP has only apprehended 71 MS-13 members trying to enter the US, suggesting many dangerous MS-13 gang-members are successfully sneaking past Border Patrol as agents are focused on dealing with unaccompanied children at the border or asylum seekers. 

One Border Patrol chief in Laredo stated that MS-13 members are using the high number of migrants entering the US to blend in and get past agents. We know MS-13 is still trying to sneak into the country, they’re just more successful now. CBP is still arresting MS-13 members when they can identify them.  

In April alone, CBP arrested an MS-13 member who was a convicted felon with an outstanding warrant, and one female MS-13 member travelling with a convicted murderer. Here near the Capitol, police in Maryland arrested an MS-13 member after he lured a 15 year old girl into an apartment and tried to rape her. 

So, even if Border Patrol agents in the field or local police are doing their best to stop MS-13, we don’t know what the DOJ is doing about MS-13 since they haven’t released any updates on Task Force Vulcan since January. We don’t even know if Task Force Vulcan still exists. 

This is a problem, because we know MS-13 is still ruthlessly operating on American streets. And Congress and the American people deserve to know what the DOJ is doing to keep our streets safe, and keep us safe from dangerous criminal organizations like MS-13. I will be seeking answers on this question from DOJ. 

Source: Sen. Chuck Grassley

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