"We will not rest until every member, associate and leader of MS-13 has been held accountable for their crimes", said Thomas Horman, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The operation was led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as part of the ongoing effort to target and dismantle the violent street gang.
"This successful operation continues our efforts to attack MS-13 - both domestically and overseas - disrupting their financial networks", said Homan.
The Trump administration has repeatedly highlighted MS-13 as it seeks to rally support for tougher immigration policies, as well as President Trump's campaign promise to build a wall on the southern border.
MS-13 is described as one of the most risky criminal organization in the country and the D.C. area is no exception.
The operation began under former U.S. President Barack Obama, and consists of two phases targeting gang members and their extensive financial networks around the globe.
A map shows the concentration of MS-13 gang arrests during “Operation Raging Bull,” carried out from Oct. 8 through Nov. 11
The operation is a "significant step towards dismantling and eradicating MS-13 in the United States and in El Salvador", said Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Rybicki, the second-ranking official at DOJ's Criminal Division. Many UACs claim to immigration officials that they are fleeing their home countries as a result of the gang presence there, and have been allowed into the country to pursue years-long immigration and family court proceedings. MS-13 is the only street gang designated by the Treasury Department as a transnational criminal organization. The investigation focused on the gang's Stoners Locos clique, which had generated $1.9 million in illicit revenue since 2015 through crimes such as extortion, robbery, vehicle theft, money laundering, assault, and homicide, according to ICE. "They're lawlessness will not be tolerated by the men and women of ICE or our federal, state and local law enforcement partners".
"Definitely some UACs end up being bad people and enter the country to do bad things", said Homan, who is serving as acting ICE director and was nominated on Tuesday by Trump to head the agency. "Eliminating this threat is one of our highest priorities at ICE".
"What often goes unreported is that these same gang members are taking advantage of the immigrant communities in which they live", he said.
Sixteen of the arrestees are USA citizens and five have legal status in the United States, the department added.
"The indictment alleges that in July 2016, several members and associates of the Sailors clique lured a victim to a secluded area, attempted to shoot the victim, and then stabbed the victim to death", he said.