US federal prosecutors announce charges against 13 members of MS-13 gang News
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US federal prosecutors announce charges against 13 members of MS-13 gang

US federal prosecutors Thursday announced charges against 13 members, including three leaders, of MS-13. The members were accused of terrorism, racketeering and murder charges, spanning over 20 years, in the US, El Salvador and Mexico. The US District Court in the Eastern District of New York issued an indictment to all 13 members in September 2022 outlining more counts of various conspiracy charges.

Four high-ranking members were expelled from Mexico by Mexican authorities and sent to Houston where they were immediately arrested by the FBI. The other members are soon to be extradited out of El-Salvador and the surrounding areas through cooperation between US and Central America law enforcement.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland stated:

Today’s action makes clear that there is no hiding place, anywhere in the world, for the leaders of violent gangs that terrorize American communities . . . The Justice Department will continue to use the full force of our law enforcement authorities to disrupt and dismantle MS-13 and other transnational criminal organizations and hold their leaders accountable.

Furthermore, as seen in the indictment, the accused have allegedly employed ways to influence and bribe the government of El Salvador and evade prosecution. With the hierarchical structure of the gang, they are able to expand across Central America, Mexico and the US. Therefore, the Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), FBI and US Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE) have pledged to collaborate special agents to “continue to maximize global efforts to dismantle illicit operations like Market & Spruce-13.” JTFV since August 2019 has formulated a government-wide strategy with US attorney’s offices and international bodies.

Three other members, located in Maryland and Virginia, were sentenced by US District Judge Paula Xinis on Thursday. After a three-week trial, two members were convicted in September 2022 of racketeering, murder and extortion conspiracy charges. This case required all branches of law enforcement to gather information and was part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods plan formed by the Department of Justice. The members were sentenced to life.