More than two dozen MS-13 gang members are facing charges following a murder and drug trafficking investigation in a rural California farm city, according to the US attorney in Sacramento.
The notorious street gang is said to have taken advantage of an understaffed police department in Mendota and terrorized the city of about 11,000 people.
McGregor Scott revealed the charges in a press conference Friday in Fresno, about 35 miles to the east of Mendota.
He said those arrested in the small farm community have also been linked to killings and assaults across the US in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Houston.
More than two dozen MS-13 gang members are facing charges following a murder and drug trafficking investigation in a rural California farm city, US attorney McGregor Scott said Friday
Mendota, California, is a small farming community home to only about 11,000 people
MS-13 is said to have taken advantage of an understaffed police department in Mendota
Two MS-13 gang members were charged with murder in US court and another four with assault in the investigation centered on the small, mostly-Hispanic town, Scott said.
Another 16 people affiliated with MS-13 are facing drug trafficking charges in US court. Additional charges have been filed in state court.
The US attorney said a wiretap obtained as part of the probe linked MS-13 gang members to slayings and assaults in the other four cities, and additional people were charged there.
‘The nationwide tentacles of this going out from this little town in Fresno County is dramatic,’ he said.
The sparse, primarily-Hispanic community has been terrorized by MS-13 in recent years
MS-13, or La Mara Salvatrucha, was formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s by refugees from El Salvador.
In California, the gang has clashed with rival Nortenos gang members. It also targets its own members for violating gang rules.
Scott noted that the crackdown on MS-13 in the Central Valley was not directed by officials in Washington, DC.
He also said he made the investigation of MS-13 a top priority after receiving a briefing about the gang’s brutality upon returning to head the US attorney’s office in Sacramento.
Scott became US attorney there for a second time in December. He previously headed that office from 2003 to 2009.
The investigation also included the California attorney general’s office and local law enforcement agencies.
Police in Los Angeles recently arrested and charged 44 members of MS-13 in one of the biggest operations against the notorious street gang
US federal agents arrested several suspected MS-13 members in New York last March
Recently Los Angeles police arrested 21 members of MS-13 – a dozen of whom were gang leaders – and charged 44 people in the city’s biggest ever operation against the group.
The week on the other side of the country in New York, human remains found in a wooded area on Long Island were revealed to belong to a young man killed by MS-13, according to Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
The gang has been blamed for at least 25 killings since January 2016 across a wide swathe of Long Island, a suburb of New York City.
The violence, including the 2016 slayings of two teenage girls in the town of Brentwood, led to congressional hearings and visits to Long Island from both Republican President Donald Trump and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
New York’s Suffolk County was the scene of a brutal murder in April of four young men, whose mutilated bodies were found dumped in a wooded area in the town of Central Islip.
One was 16 years old, two were 18 and the fourth was 20 – and the extreme violence with which they were killed pointed to MS-13.
This week authorities in El Salvador announced the arrests of more than 600 MS-13 members
Authorities say the Central American street gang famed for its heavily tattooed members and torturing its victims has now established itself in 40 US states, making headlines for shootings as well as baseball bat and machete attacks.
According to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, 1,100 gang members or associates have been arrested. But two-thirds of those arrested were US citizens, not immigrants, and only 104 were members of MS-13.
President Donald Trump has branded the gang a national security threat and uses atrocities executed by the ‘bad hombres’ as an example for his anti-immigration policies and the administration’s zero tolerance approach at the Mexico-US border.
Earlier this week authorities in El Salvador announced the arrests of more than 600 alleged MS-13 members following a year-long operation targeting gang activity that has destabilized El Salvador collectively and forced its citizens to seek refuge in the US.
The Salvadorean Attorney General revealed Tuesday that the criminal investigation solved 64 homicides, the murders of five women, two feminicide cases, 51 extortion cases, 27 kidnappings and 93 homicide conspiracies.
The government also uncovered drug dealing and money laundering cases.
The Salvadorean Attorney General revealed Tuesday that its criminal investigation solved 64 homicides, the murders of five women, two feminicide cases, 51 extortion cases, 27 kidnappings and 93 homicide conspiracies
Among those apprehended was the mayor of Concepcion Batres, Benjamin Romeo Machuca Diaz, who lent his services to the ruthless criminal organization that has led to scores of Salvadoreans to flee the Central American country and seek refuge in the United States.
He was caught in a sting that took down 119 gangsters.
Other leaders that were also apprehended by the national police included Guillermo Stanley Corleto Ruiz, an Evangelical pastor, who financed the ‘Acajutla Locos’ [Acajutla Crazies].
Ruiz is accused of ‘loaning them cars’ and providing gang members false evidence of community service to seek their release from the Supreme Court of Justice.
Law enforcement agents also arrested Jorge Manuel Vega Knight, the owner of two motels that were raided, had business dealings with other MS-13 leaders, supplying them ‘all types of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and crystal meth.’
The investigation recovered dealt a knockout punch the Mara Salvatrucha gang by seizing 69 cars, 11 motorcycles, 21 trucks, 21 tow trucks and three fishing vessels.
Authorities also took possession of 29 residences, two motels, a beach house and a mobile business cart.
WHAT IS MS-13?
President Donald Trump said in May that he ‘is committed to protecting communities from the violent animals of MS-13’.
MS-13 is a transnational gang that has committed horrendous acts of violence across America.
The gang’s motto is ‘mata, viola, controla’ which means ‘kill, rape, control’.
There are more than 10,000 MS-13 members in the US and more than 30,000 worldwide.
The gang (file image) has become a prime target of President Donald Trump’s administration
MS-13 leaders in the US often communicate and take orders from gang leaders in El Salvador.
Long Island communities have been strongly impacted by the violence and suffering spread by MS-13.
Police suspect the gang was involved in at least 25 killings on Long Island between 2016 and 2018.
President Trump believes loopholes need to be eliminated to combat MS-13: ‘Transnational gangs such as MS-13 take advantage of our porous borders and seek to use our current immigration system to their advantage’.
MS-13 has sought to use the influx of unaccompanied alien children entering the US for recruitment.
Source: White House