(CN) — More than 3,800 people were rounded up late last week in the United States and Central America, in what the U.S. Department of Justice called coordinated international action against street gangs.
The primary targets of Operation Regional Shield were said to be members of the MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, and 18th Street gangs.
High-ranking officials in the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras announced the results on Friday.
Charges were brought against more than 70 people in the United States, in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Virginia. Another 284 charges were brought in Guatemala and 1,400 arrests made in El Salvador.
The MS-13 had its roots in Los Angeles in the 1980s, after hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans fled that country’s civil war. The gang later spread to many parts of the continental United States, and to Central America, through deportations. The 18th Street gang also originated in Los Angeles, and spread southward. The gangs are thought to be bitter rivals.
President Trump in July declared he would eradicate MS-13, in a speech in which he appeared to encourage police to rough up suspected gang members during arrests.
“Like, when you guys put somebody in the car and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand like, ‘Don't hit their head?’ … You can take the hand away, OK?”
In announcing the arrests on Friday, Attorney General Sessions said that MS-13 has spread to more than 40 U.S. states.
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