U.S. Imposes Sanctions on MS-13 Members, Offers 5 million for One of Them

The United States imposed sanctions against two leaders and associates of the Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) transnational criminal street gang for their involvement in drug trafficking, violence, murder, extortion, and money laundering. Authorities also offered US$5 million for information that would lead to the arrest of one of them.

Yulan AdonayYulan Adonay Archaga Carías, also known as Archaga Carías, was a notorious leader of the infamous gang MS-13 in Honduras. (Photo: FBI, License)Yulan Adonay Archaga Carías, the notorious leader of the infamous gang in Honduras, and David Elias Campbell Licona, an associate in Nicaragua, have been charged by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York with various conspiracy charges including racketeering, cocaine importation, murder, and possession of machine guns.

According to a statement of the U.S. Treasury, Archaga Carías controls a vast drug trafficking operation that transports tonnes of cocaine from Honduras to the U.S. He also orders murders and hires members of the MS-13 as assassins, known as “sicarios,” to carry out killings for other drug trafficking organizations in exchange for payments. Other criminal groups in Central America have been supplied by him with firearms, including machine guns.

Archaga Carías is wanted by both U.S. and Honduran authorities.

Honduras had arrested Carías but a group of over 20 men, possibly dressed in Honduran military and National Anti-Gang Force uniforms, rescued him from a courthouse. The operation resulted in the death of at least five people, including police officers. Despite his efforts to evade justice, he was eventually indicted by a federal grand jury in the U.S. for various crimes.

Working closely with David Elias Campbell Licona, Carías planned and carried out violent retaliations against rivals, and also established businesses to launder the gang’s drug proceeds.

Using those businesses, they were able to funnel illicit money to banks in the U.S.

Campbell Licona was arrested and is now serving time in Nicarágua.

The sanctions block all property and interests in property of these two MS-13 members in the U.S. or under the control of U.S. citizens. The sanctions also prohibit all transactions with them unless authorized by the Treasury.

In 2012, the MS-13 became the first street gang officially recognized as a transnational criminal organization by the U.S. Now, the Treasury aims to prevent their members from using the country’s financial system to launder their illicit proceeds.