Sessions Meets With Latin American Counterparts to Discuss War on Drug Trafficking

A.G. holds trilateral summit with Mexican, Colombian chief prosecutors

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his counterparts from Colombia, Nestor Humberto Martinez, and Mexico, Alberto Elias Beltran / Getty Images
December 8, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions met Wednesday and Thursday with his Colombian and Mexican counterparts in Cartagena, Colombia, to discuss combating the threat of transnational organized crime.

Sessions, along with Colombian Attorney General Néstor Humberto Martínez Neira and Acting Prosecutor General of Mexico Alberto Elías Beltran, met to "renew the existing commitment to international judicial cooperation" and focus on existing strategies for stopping transnational criminal organizations (TCOs).

The focuses of the summit included a variety of criminal activities in which TCOs regularly dabble, such as narcotics trafficking, money laundering, public corruption, and human trafficking.

"This criminal activity has affected security and prosperity in the Americas," a joint declaration from the three law enforcement leaders read. "Thus, the Attorneys General believe that it is necessary to redouble each country's efforts and fortify cooperation amongst all three countries in order effectively to combat this scourge."

The three articulated five principles to govern future cooperation: "streamlining the exchange of information" between the investigative bodies of the three nations; collaborating on the interdiction of narcotics; using investigative bodies to more effectively dismantle TCOs; increasing the trade of best practices; and developing joint training programs, especially focused on "organized crime, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, asset forfeiture, and public corruption."

One of the top priorities of Sessions's Justice Department has been MS-13, a transnational drug gang with its origins in Los Angeles but based primarily out of El Salvador. The gang has a presence in 46 states, with around 10,000 members in the United States and an estimated 30,000 worldwide.

The gang is infamous for its brutal violence, captured by its motto: "kill, rape, control."

This is not the first time that Sessions has met with Latin American colleagues since taking office in February. In March, Sessions met with the Attorneys General of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to discuss the same issue.

That meeting is where the gangbust eventually known as Operation Regional Shield took shape. That operation led to the charging of 3,800 members of MS-13.

Another 214 members of MS-13 were arrested last month, adding to 53 already arrested in El Salvador as a part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency's Operation Raging Bull.

"With more than 10,000 members across 40 states, MS-13 is one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the United States today. These 267 arrests are the next step toward making this country safer by taking MS-13 off of our streets for good," Sessions said at the time of the Raging Bull bust.