The Department of Justice announced the arrest of nearly two dozen MS-13 gang members this week who are connected to horrific murders carried out in California. Victims were hacked to death with machetes and in some instances, had their hearts ripped out.
"The indictment focuses on a particularly violent subset of the gang known as the Fulton clique, which operates in the San Fernando Valley and has recently seen an influx of young immigrants from Central America. Under the influence of these young gangsters, younger associates who wanted to become members of MS-13 were 'required to kill an MS-13 rival or someone perceived to be adverse to MS-13 to be initiated into MS-13,'” according to the indictment," DOJ details. "In one murder detailed in the indictment, several MS-13 members allegedly targeted a rival gang member who was believed to have defaced MS-13 graffiti. On March 6, 2017, according to the indictment, the rival gang member was abducted, choked, and driven to a remote location in the Angeles National Forest, where six people attacked him with a machete. The victim was dismembered, and his body parts were thrown into a canyon after one of the defendants allegedly cut the heart out of the victim’s body."
Nineteen of the 22 individuals charged were are in the United States illegally. They came into the country over the past four years. California, a sanctuary state that refuses to work with Immigration and Customs enforcement, protected them. According to the indictment, they engaged in crime sprees spanning multiple states.
"We have now taken off the streets nearly two dozen people associated with the most violent arm of MS-13 in Los Angeles, where the gang is believed to have killed 24 people over the past two years,” United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement. “This investigation has been an unqualified success. The collaborative law enforcement effort solved several murder cases and dealt a severe blow to members of the gang who engaged in acts of brutality not seen in the region for over 20 years. The prosecution of these defendants would not have been possible without the backing of local law enforcement, including District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who has supported our efforts every step of the way and has dedicated substantial resources to ensure that all of these defendants get the justice they deserve.”
The Trump administration has prioritized the targeting of MS-13, especially as the violent gang exploits weak asylum laws and the ongoing crisis at the border to gain access to the United States.