MS-13 gang targeted in sweep across Los Angeles

MS-13 gang targeted in sweep across Los Angeles

MS-13 gang targeted in sweep across Los Angeles

Twenty-one members and associates of a brutal gang known as MS-13 were arrested Wednesday morning as hundreds of federal and local law enforcement fanned out across Los Angeles, serving arrest and search warrants.

The high-ranking gang members had formed a de facto MS-13 leadership council, a committee that was needed because no one person was willing to take on the top role in light of ongoing scrutiny by law enforcement, authorities said.

In the early Wednesday morning operation, authorities arrested 44 gang members who will face federal charges, officials said. The Mexican Mafia is also charged in the case, as it is believed the two gangs established a partnership for drug trafficking.

Federal prosecutors say he also allegedly conducted gang meetings and ordered the "jumping in" of new members and assaults of members in bad standing. Romero has been in local custody since February of 2015, he was arrested on suspicion of ordering a gang-related murder.

Harden has faced off with MS-13 for decades, dating back to his days as a street agent.

Those arrested today by members of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs are among defendants who face federal charges, including the former head of the entire gang in Los Angeles and 12 senior leaders of the gang, who led a majority of the gang's cliques in the Los Angeles region.

The 127-page indictment revealed that there are over ten thousand MS-13 members in the U.S., and that the LA gang is of particular importance.

A racketeering indictment charges three suspected gang members with murders committed in connection with MS-13 activities, authorities said.

"It's one of the largest and most entrenched gangs in Los Angeles", Brown said.

Agents and officers served warrants at 41 locations.

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Shortly after 4 a.m. PDT Wednesday, heavily armed ATF agents - wearing helmets and bulletproof gear and carrying rifles - forced their way into a storefront and a back building near Exposition Boulevard and Western Avenue in Exposition Park.

"The case we're announcing today is the culmination of a three-year investigation", said Deidre Fike, FBI Assistant Director in Charge.

Wednesday's sweep was part of a multi-agency investigation that began in 2014.

More than half of the people arrested today are immigrants who are in the US illegally. The group operates in at least 42 states and Washington, D.C. and boasts more than 6,000 members, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has been trying to stop it for more than a decade.

Sessions has targeted the gang as part of the Trump administration's larger crackdown on both violent crime and undocumented immigrants.

Last week ICE arrested more than 1,000 gang members in a nationwide surge, including more than 100 MS-13 members. The gang's motto is "kill, rape and control". Separate murder charges for three of the gang members, and various narcotics and firearm charges were filed against two additional MS13 members. Gang members believed to have shown disloyalty, members of rival gangs or anyone who is perceived to have slighted the gang are potential targets for killings.

MS-13 began in Los Angeles in the 1980s during a flood of El Salvadorians fleeing to the United States. The gang is headquartered in El Salvador but operates internationally with about 10,000 members in the US and 30,000 overseas, according to the Justice Department.

Federal officials say MS-13 is to blame for decades of violence and drug activity across the country. The gang has plagued immigrant communities in and around Washington D.C., on New York's Long Island, Newark, N.J., in Boston, Charlotte, Houston and other areas.

MS-13 makes money from extortions, kidnappings, drug and weapons trafficking and human trafficking, the ATF said.

MS-13 leaders in El Salvador were targeted for financial sanctions by the Obama administration in 2012 as part of an earlier executive order targeting such groups.

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