News and Commentary

Trump Said Migrant Caravan Includes MS-13 Gang Members; Border Patrol Just Arrested One

“You’re going to find MS-13, you’re going to find Middle Eastern, you’re going to find everything,” President Trump said in one of his much-criticized statements about the kinds of people included among the thousands of caravan migrants amassing at the U.S. southern border.

While the president has taken heat for describing the migrants as including criminals, the Mexican government has confirmed that to be the case, announcing last week that they are in the process of deporting hundreds of the migrants for criminal behavior at the border near Tijuana. Trump’s reference to MS-13 has also been proved correct, as a recent U.S. border patrol arrest reveals.

“U.S. Border Patrol agents have arrested a member of the infamous Salvadoran MS-13 gang who admitted to authorities that he traveled with a caravan of Central American migrants who were hoping to qualify for asylum in America,” National Review’s Mairead McArdle reports.

The member of the notoriously brutal gang, which is responsible for numerous violent murders in the U.S. over the last three decades, is 29-year-old Jose Villalobos-Jobel, a Honduran national who was arrested Saturday evening in U.S. territory east of the Calexico Port of Entry.

He admitted to agents that he’d traveled with the caravan with the intention of entering the country illegally. Villalobos-Jobel “told agents he traveled to the United States border with a large group of people from Central America intending on filing for asylum in the United States,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement about his arrest. Below is the full text of the statement issued by the agency Wednesday:

Border Patrol Arrests a MS-13 Gang Member

CALEXICO, Calif. – Border Patrol agents assigned to El Centro Sector arrested a gang member Saturday evening.

The incident occurred at approximately 6:09 p.m., when agents encountered a man just east of the Calexico Port of Entry suspected of being in the United States illegally. After a short interview, the man told agents he is a Honduran citizen and active gang member with the notorious Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) international crime organization. The man also told agents he traveled to the United States border with a large group of people from Central America intending on filing for asylum in the United States.

The man was taken to El Centro station for further questioning. At the station records checks revealed the man is 29-year-old Jose Villalobos-Jobel, a citizen of Honduras. Again, Villalobos confirmed his story of his gang involvement and intent on entering the United States illegally.

Villalobos will be held pending his processing and repatriation to Honduras.

McArdle notes that this isn’t the first MS-13 member connected to a migrant caravan to have been arrested for trying to enter the country illegally. “In April, another MS-13 member, Herberth Geovani Argueta-Chavez, 18, was apprehended after illegally entering the U.S. with a group suspected to be part of the caravan that headed for the border last spring,” she writes. “He posed as an unaccompanied minor before police discovered his identity as an adult gang member.”

The gang has been active since the 1980s and has developed a strong presence in the U.S., El Salvador and other Central American countries, including Honduras. Cracking down on the brutal gang has been one of the Trump administration’s priorities.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security warned that at least 500 members of the 6,000-member caravan were criminals. Subsequent reports have revealed that, counter to the way media initially covered the group, a vast majority of the migrants are young men who appear to be seeking a better economic situation rather than legitimate asylum seekers.


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