Law enforcement officials said the arrests of more than 20 individuals associated with the California-based Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang on assault and drug charges also yielded a cache of weapons.
Officials said the recent arrests in Mendota and Los Angeles, California, were issued on the federal and state level in connection with gang activities, including assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.
Two indictments were also unsealed, per authorities, with one charging two MS-13 members with kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering and another charging three MS-13 gang members with conspiracy and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering.
“MS-13 is a brutal transnational criminal organization that has wreaked havoc in communities across the United States,” Brian A. Benczkowski, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said. “The gang engages in indiscriminate and senseless acts of violence, as demonstrated by the charges announced today, which allege murder, attempted murder and drug trafficking in the State of California. Dismantling MS-13 and other violent gangs that terrorize our streets will remain a top priority of the Department of Justice.”
Investigators said the probe into the group’s activities stemmed reports MS-13 had established a presence in Fresno County, California, with authorities garnering evidence of broad criminal activity, including murder, assault, firearms possession, and drug trafficking activity.
Officials said the investigation was conducted by the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit, the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), the FBI, HSI, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Special Services Unit (SSU).