The violent MS-13 gang has kicked the tire in San Jose, in an effort to set up shop in the South Bay, but has so far been unsuccessful.
Leaders credit a slew of intervention programs for keeping one of the United States’ most ruthless gangs away from their city.
On Friday, in front of law enforcement officers in Long Island, President Donald Trump used blunt terms to describe how the MS-13 gang members, known for torturing victims to get their way, should be treated.
“These animals, and when you see them, they're thrown into the backs of paddy wagons,” Trump said. “Throw them in. I said, ‘Please don't be too nice.’”
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in El Salvador, talking about dismantling MS-13 in its home base.
“It’s extremely scary,” said Mario Maciel, who heads San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s Gang Task Force.
Maciel just returned from Central America, where he gave workshops on how his hometown is fighting gangs.
“Those young men are lacking a lot of hope for their futures and there's nothing more dangerous than individuals who have no hope for their future,” Maciel said. “They're willing to do the most atrocious things.”
To combat that trend, a group of San Jose teens on Friday graduated from a summer work program that aims to keep them off the streets.
“Anything you do on the streets can get you in trouble – even the smallest thing you can think of,” said one of the graduates, identified as Jarenny.
It is such efforts that can deter potential gang members from lives of crime, said Maciel.