A member of the notorious MS-13 street gang, captured this week at the border crossing in Calexico, California, admitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents that he used the 8,000-strong "migrant caravan," that snaked its way through Mexico from Honduras and Guatemala, as cover to re-enter the United States.
Jose Villalobos-Jobel was spotted on sight by Border Patrol agents last week as he was standing on the U.S. side along the border between the United States and Mexico, the Washington Examiner reported.
Customs agents detailed Villalobos-Jobel on suspicion that he was in the United States without legal documentation. Under questioning, Villalobos-Jobel affirmed agents' suspicions that he was a member of MS-13.
"Customs and Border Protection said Villalobos-Jobel admitted to being from Honduras and an active gang member of Mara Salvatrucha 13, or MS-13, a transnational criminal organization. He also said he traveled to the U.S. from his home country with one of the caravan groups, which have said they were coming to the U.S. to apply for asylum at the border," according to the Examiner.
Villalobos-Jobel was, apparently, easy to spot among the 2,000 or so migrants camped out at the border crossing in Calexico, which is around 100 miles east of a larger migrant encampment in Tijuana, Mexico. He's a known operative of MS-13, having been deported on a "secure flight" back to Honduras from Las Vegas in 2006, after committing an unspecified crime.
Villalobos-Jobel did tell investigators that he intended to enter the United States illegally and was not looking to declare asylum.
Although Villalobos-Jobel is the first official member of MS-13 to admit to having used the "migrant caravan" for cover, the Department of Homeland Security warned just last week that at least 600 "convicted criminals" were among the thousands of "refugees" seeking asylum in the United States as part of the movement.
President Donald Trump has also long warned that the migrant caravans were so large that each individual member couldn't be properly assessed, necessitating strict control at legal border crossings. The threat of MS-13 members in the crowds storming the border in Tijuana and elsewhere is what ultimately led the President to call up 5,000 active duty military members for assignments along the border.
The migrant caravan is posing a host of problems, and not just for the United States. Mexico, which is at the tail end of an election cycle, has yet to decide what to do with the thousands of migrants camped out along the border, consuming Mexican resources, and bankrupting border towns. Throughout their trip through Mexico, the Mexican government has offered the migrants temporary work permits and the ability to seek asylum in Mexico, but the vast majority of caravan migrants turned down the offer.
Now some of the migrants, believing they were sold a bill of goods about how easy it would be to declare asylum and be allowed into the United States, are self-deporting, accepting offers from the Mexican government for safe passage back to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.