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MS-13 gang members in Central America sanctioned by US

The United States Treasury Department sanctioned two members of the powerful Mara Salvatrucha on Wednesday, part of ongoing efforts by the U.S. to crack down on the gang commonly known as MS-13. One of the men is still at large.

The sanctions were imposed on men in Honduras and Nicaragua, each accused of “drug trafficking, violence, murder, extortion, and money laundering” in Central America and the U.S., treasury official Brian E. Nelson said in a statement.

The measure freezes the men's property and blocks them from making any financial transactions in the U.S., Nelson said.

“MS-13 is a violent, destabilizing threat to the security of people in Central America," Nelson said. “Its criminal activities degrade economies in the region to such a degree that citizens are compelled to seek safety and better opportunities elsewhere.”

One of the men charged, Yulan Adonay Archaga Carias, also known as “Alexander Mendoza” or “Porky,” is a powerful MS-13 leader based in Honduras who is accused of ordering the killings of rival gang members and trafficking cocaine to the U.S., Nelson said. He escaped from a Honduran prison in 2020.

The administration of President Joe Biden announced a $5 million reward for information leading to Archaga Carias' capture. He remains one of the FBI's 10 most-wanted fugitives.

The second man sanctioned by the Treasury, David Elias Campbell Licona, also known as “Jorge Eduardo Perez Paz,” is known as a gang associate in Nicaragua, and is currently imprisoned in the country, Nelson said. He’s accused of laundering drug money and working with Archaga Carias to plan violent attacks.

MS-13 is a transnational gang that originated in Los Angeles, and has since gained a grip on much of Central America. The American government blames violence generated by the group as a driver of migration to the U.S.

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele recently launched an intensive crackdown on the gangs.