Federal racketeering, murder, and other charges have been filed against 22 suspected MS-13 gang members who law enforcement officials believe are linked to a series of grisly killings involving baseball bats, machetes and other tools of “medieval-type” violence, authorities stated Tuesday.
Nineteen of those indicted are considered illegal immigrants, and most of the group’s members arrived in the U.S. in the past four years from Central America. All but two are under the age of 24, Nicola Hanna, the U.S. Attorney for Los Angeles, introduced at a news conference. Most, he added, participated in the “killing spree.”
The arrests – the last came visiting the weekend – capped a two-year investigation. While President Donald Trump has singled out MS-13 as a threat to public safety in the making a case for tighter security along the Mexican border, Hanna stated the defendants mostly preyed upon other recent immigrants who they believed were rivals.
MS-13 “has been named as one of the high five transnational threats to the U.S.,” Hanna said. “MS-13 has spread like cancer … throughout the U.S.”
Those arrested were all part of the so-called Fulton clique of MS-13, one of the most violent of about 20 factions of MS-13 operating in the Los Angeles area, Hanna said. The club worked primarily in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley.
The indictment cites seven instances in which members abducted victims to kill them, in some cases beating them to death with baseball bats or stabbing them to death.
In one of the most horrific allegations, several are accused of luring a perceived rival gang member who they believed to have defaced MS-13 graffiti to the forest outside Los Angeles and killed him with a machete. They dismembered his body and minimized out his heart before dumping the remains into a canyon, authorities said.