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21 gang members arrested in Los Angeles crime sweep
From: | Date Add in:2017-05-19 08:00:00 [A  A]

U.S. federal and Los Angeles law enforcement agencies launched one of the largest-ever raids against the international crime organization M-13 here Wednesday, netting 21 important members of the gang.
They mobilized tactical and SWAT teams to serve dozens of warrants in more than 50 locations of the city Wednesday morning.
According to a statement issued by Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra Brown, there was a 127-page anti-racketeering and murdering indictment targeting 44 gang members of M-13 and its associations, including an ex-leader of a Los Angeles faction of the gang.
Among the 21 members arrested on Wednesday, three were accused of murder and could face the death penalty.
Many of the 44 defendants had stayed in the country illegally, the statement said, but it did not disclose which countries the gang members targeted in the indictment were from and how long they had been in the United States.
MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha, a notorious gang, reportedly founded in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s by Salvadoran immigrants, soon developed into a transnational organization and spread all over North America.
It used to have 1,200 members, and is now down to about 800. The gang's motto was "kill, rape and control," and it maintained and spread its power by violence.
"M-13 members have been convicted of a long list of crimes including assault, murder, conspiracy, racketeering, extortion, kidnapping, human smuggling, robbery and drug trafficking," the Los Angeles Times reported.
The law-enforcement officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles Police Department joined the crime sweep.
Before 4 a.m. (1100 GMT), the agents, heavily armed, raided a building near the city center, finding at least seven people locked in a room. FBI Assistant Director Deirdre Fike said they were trying to find out if those people are the victims of trafficking, ABC News reported.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said that as the targets of M-13, the immigrants without legal status were extorted, robbed, raped and murdered by M-13 members. Since 2007, L.A. county had tried to weaken the gang's power by sending hundreds of its members to prison.
"Today's charges and arrests, however, will deal a critical blow to the top leadership of this criminal organization and will significantly improve safety in neighborhoods across this region," Brown said in the statement.
Since the sweep involved several senior leaders of the gang, Beck said:"The indictment and arrests may not dismantle the gang, but they will have a significant impact on its power structure."
The sweep conducted on Wednesday was part of an anti-racketeering case, which started in 2014, CBS News reported, noting that U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration had repeatedly emphasized MS-13 and similar gangs posed a risk to American communities.
Trump tweeted in April that the weak illegal immigration policies of the Barack Obama administration allowed the MS-13 gang to form in cities across the United States, saying "We are removing them fast!"
The president also signed an executive order in February specifically directing federal law enforcement to crack down on street gangs and transnational criminal organizations.

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