San Fernando Valley MS-13 Members Charged With Murders, Drug Trafficking

Prosecutors say a faction of the MS-13 gang in Los Angeles is responsible for grisly killings

Prosecutors say a faction of the MS-13 gang in Los Angeles is responsible for grisly killings

Twenty-two Los Angeles members of the notorious MS-13 gang with nicknames such as "Desastre" and "Lucifer" have been charged with running a criminal racketeering enterprise enforced with a string of murders, some by machete, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump has spoken frequently about the perniciousness of MS-13 and its relationship to illegal immigration.

MS-13, or La Mara Salvatrucha, was formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s by refugees from El Salvador and is linked to many slayings in certain parts of the U.S. In California, the gang has clashed with rival Nortenos gang members.

The court documents say that younger associates of the Fulton clique who want to become full-fledged MS-13 members were required to kill a rival gang member or other adversaries to gain initiation.

Suspecting the victim had defaced an MS-13 graffiti, they allegedly abducted him, choked him and drove to a remote location in the Angeles National Forest where six people killed him with a machete.

Members of the group also battered a 17-year-old girl with a rock at the San Gabriel Mountains, shot a 34-year-old homeless man in a Valley Glen park because they "wanted to see the victim's tattoos to determine if he was from a rival gang", stabbed a 26-year-old man in an abandoned property near downtown L.A. before dumping his body in a suitcase on the 14 Freeway in Agua Dulce, beat an 18-year-old to death with a baseball bat on the rooftop of a Hollywood building and fatally shot a man in Malibu Hills, prosecutors allege.

"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", a news release from Hanna's office said.

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Three were arrested in recent days in the Los Angeles area by a task force composed of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, LAPD officers and Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies.

Three individuals named in the indictment were arrested in the past few days in the Los Angeles area, and a fourth was arrested over the weekend in Oakland, according to the Patch news outlet.

The indictment focuses on the "Fulton clique" of MS-13, which has recently seen an influx of young immigrants from Central America, according to the U.S. Attorney's office statement.

"Taking violent offenders off the street should send a message to MS-13 members and their associates that medieval-style violence and senseless murder will not be tolerated in Los Angeles", Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office, said in a written statement.

Authorities also filed two more cases under seal against juvenile defendants in federal court. The new indictment is a spinoff of the earlier prosecution. Prosecutors have not said whether they intend to seek capital punishment.

MS-13 Gang member Fernando Garcia Parada poses for a photo wielding a machete and throwing a gang sign in January 2018.

Hanna said this is only the latest action against MS-13, which engages in extortion and drug dealing, among other activities.

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