MS-13 gang targeted in sweep across Los Angeles

Cameron Gross
May 18, 2017

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs (LAMTFVG) announced Wednesday morning that it has arrested about 21 members of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) overnight in connection with a federal racketeering indictment that names 44 defendants.

The suspects are all charged in a 41-count federal indictment. The detainees were part of a group of forty-four members of the gang who were indicted on charges ranging from murder to racketeering to extortion.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said that investigators also relied on witnesses and victims who are themselves not legal US residents. Agents approached in an armored vehicle down a narrow alleyway behind the small business. Separate murder charges for three of the gang members, and various narcotics and firearm charges were filed against two additional MS13 members. The storefront, which appeared to be locked from the outside, was full of garbage. Two other MS-13 members - Samuel Alexander Paredes Rivas, 39, also known as "Blacky", and Joffri Molina, 24, also known as "Espia" - are also charged with VICAR murder. The targets included some members of the gang's leadership.

According to a press release by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the former Los Angeles head of MS-13 (Jose "Porky" Balmore Romero, who ran MS13 Los Angeles in 2013 and 2014) was arrested, along with 12 senior leaders of the gang. Those already in custody would be brought into federal court to face their charges at a later date. A friend of the victim was also stabbed during the attack.

Rivas is charged with murder in the death a man on August 30, 2015, at a strip mall in Pacoima. Molina is accused of murdering a man on September 27, 2015 on a street in North Hollywood.

Officials said suspected gang members Irwin Garcia, Jesse Perez and Jorge Ramos (from left to right) were considered fugitives on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Thirty-four of the defendants facing charges were named in a racketeering indictment unsealed Wednesday.

The high-ranking leaders were "shot-callers" and others who made up what law enforcement officials described as a leadership council of MS-13. He has reportedly been in local custody since February 2015, accused in a gang-related murder.

MS-13 began in Los Angeles in the 1980s, when El Salvadorians flooded into the United States. Salvadorans congregated in large numbers in the Pico-Union neighborhood and the area near MacArthur Park. In 2012 and 2014, his department ranked the group as the number one street gang in the area, but the group has since dropped to seventh, Beck said.

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The gang has developed a reputation for ruthlessness.

MS-13 is said to make money from extortions, kidnappings, drug and weapons trafficking and human trafficking, the ATF said. In the run-up to that incident, the gang had been linked to at least five killings in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

Last week ICE arrested more than 1,000 gang members in a nationwide surge, including more than 100 MS-13 members. Meanwhile, newly-organized cells in El Salvador established beachheads in the United States.

Hundreds of federal and local law enforcement fanned out across Los Angeles, serving arrest and search warrants as part of a three-year investigation into the violent and brutal street gang MS-13.

MS-13 has become a primary target of the Justice and Homeland Security departments amid the Trump administration's broader effort to crack down on illegal immigration and violent crime.

Trump tweeted, without evidence, that the Obama administration "allowed" MS-13 to form in America.

Authorities said the MS-13 is among the largest criminal organization in the United States with 30,000 members worldwide and 10,000 in the United States.

Other reports by BadHub

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