U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department plans to hire 300 additional assistant U.S. attorneys to help build federal cases against criminals, including a focus on transnational gangs such as MS-13.
“As you all know, we have a multi-front battle in front of us right now: an increase in violent crime, vicious gangs, an opioid epidemic, threats from terrorism and human traffickers,” Sessions said in a speech in Las Vegas.
A recent congressional hearing on Long Island, N.Y., highlighted the dire need for more assistant U.S. attorneys (AUSAs).
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said that the Eastern District of New York is woefully understaffed and that boosting the number of AUSAs would increase the number of federal prosecutions of MS-13 gang members.
“We must continue to arrest and prosecute MS-13 gang members under the RICO statute to remove dangerous individuals from our streets and dismantle the gang’s leadership,” Sini said. “In order to do so, however, local law enforcement agencies need the support of the federal government to prosecute these cases.”
Sessions noted the U.S. murder rate had risen 10 percent nationwide in just one year, marking the largest increase since 1968. The increase was from 2014 to 2015, the latest figures available.
Reuters contributed to this report.