As jails around the U.S. fill with MS-13 gang members, facilities are feeling the strain. Fights are up. So is extortion. Jailers are struggling to keep MS-13 members away from one another and their rivals.
MS-13 gang members are committing violence in the Prince George’s County, Md., jail, near Washington, D.C., the Washington Post reports. Of the jail’s 900 inmates as of last spring, about 50 were tied to MS-13. “They are vying for control of these housing units,” said one official.As bodies bearing MS-13’s trademark stab wounds and machete slashes have appeared in quiet suburbs and secluded parks across the U.S., authorities have increasingly gone after the gang, arresting hundreds of members of MS-13 over the past two years. As jails fill with MS-13 members, facilities are feeling the strain. Fights are up. So is extortion. Jailers are struggling to keep MS-13 members away from one another and their rivals.
“MS-13 presents unique challenges not only to the criminal justice system but also to the correctional system,” said Robert Green, head of corrections in Montgomery County, Md., where the gang has been linked to nearly a dozen killings since 2015. “Gang altercations have significantly increased” over the past year, he said, as the jail’s MS-13 population has risen 20 percent. On Long Island, where a string of MS-13 killings has been invoked repeatedly by President Trump, the gang’s jailhouse ranks are up 20 percent in two years. While jail officials acknowledge that the influx of MS-13 inmates has made their jobs harder, they also emphasize that the gang is just one of many within their walls and that the situation is under control.