FREDERICK, Md (WDVM) — Five years ago, Frederick police had their hands full with some of the highest caseloads involving MS-13 related violence. In the years since, those cases have been on the decline.
“They are a very brutal, brutal gang that we are seeing more and more in Frederick County, unfortunately. It’s probably the number one gang we deal with mostly,” explained State’s Attorney for Frederick County, Charlie Smith.
And in 2015, Frederick Police investigation was at a high with 20 cases involving suspected and affiliated MS-13 members.
Detectives worked around the clock on a missing person’s investigation that was re-classified as a murder after the victim’s body was found on a former construction site, and the assault of two victims with a machete.
“The reputation they have gotten is of ruthlessness in the murders we’ve seen. We’ve seen dismemberment often with machetes, stabbings, and things like that. So there is the brutal nature of this gang,” explained Lt. Kirk Henneberry with the Frederick Police Department.
But the number of cases in the city has declined in the last five years.
In 2016, police reported 16 incidents, followed by five incidents in 2017 and zero incidents in 2018. Last year, police reported a slight spike with five MS-13 related incidents.
According to the county gang task force, while there has not been an overall increase in gang activity in recent years, MS-13 does make up a higher percentage of crime compared to other gangs.
“They are organized. This is not something that’s casual. They recruit at a very young age, middle school as a matter of fact. We have had MS-13 gang members found with paraphernalia as young as seventh grade,” Smith said.
Henneberry explains that in the last five years, Frederick Police have worked to identify between 7 to 10 members linked to MS-13 with the help of surrounding jurisdictions and agencies.
“We’ve been able to charge the vast majority of them and over the last four-and-a-half, five years,” Henneberry said, “We’ve been able to locate them with help of the [United States Marshals Service,] [Federal Bureau of Investigation] and other police departments.”
For parents or community members concerned with young teens targeted for recruitment, police encourage you to speak up.
“We can definitely get police resources out there to try and repel that type of activity. We definitely want to know about that. If it prevents one kid [from] getting into a gang or prevents an act of violence we definitely want to hear about it,” said Henneberry.
On Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that an MS-13 gang member, charged in connection to violent crimes in Frederick, was sentenced to 32 years in federal prison.