US police bust notorious Latino gang
Jun 24 03:10 PM US/Eastern
US officials on Tuesday cracked-down on the violent MS-13 gang, arresting 26 people for a range of crimes committed in three US states and the Central American nation of El Salvador.
"Early this morning, federal, state, and local law enforcement officials here in North Carolina began executing arrest warrants against 26 alleged members of the gang La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13," US Attorney General Michael Mukasey said.
The defendants face a variety of charges stemming from crimes committed between 2003 and June 2008 including four murders, narcotics distribution, robberies, illegal firearms possession, extortion, assault, intimidating witnesses and obstruction of justice, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
The arrests followed the unsealing of a 55-count indictment from a federal grand jury in Charlotte, he said.
A gang leader directed many of the activities from his prison cell in El Salvador, where he received money wired by gang members, the statement said.
"Criminal gangs such as MS-13 increasingly recognize no borders, which means that international cooperation is more important today than it ever was before," Mukasey said, thanking the government of El Salvador for its role in the bust.
"Thankfully, that collaboration is on full display in our relationship with the government of El Salvador," he said.
MS-13 is an extremely violent gang that originated in El Salvador and operates there and in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and throughout the United States, Mukasey said.
"Today's indictment is merely the latest sign of the gang's reach, and it shows the breadth and seriousness of the crimes that MS-13 members are alleged to have committed," he said.
Many of the defendants were in the United States illegally, and two were additionally charged with re-entering the country unlawfully after having been deported, the DOJ statement said.