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Feds hit 41 members of MS-13 and Mexican Mafia in Los Angeles with major RICO indictment

May 18, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Feds hit 41 members of MS-13 and Mexican Mafia in Los Angeles with major RICO indictment

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Hundreds of law enforcement officials at the state and federal levels throughout Los Angeles executed arrest and search warrants as part of a three-year probe into the violent MS-13 and Mexican Mafia street gangs.

Officials say the gang takedown has left MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, decimated in the Southern California city.

Roughly 44 suspects were taken into custody in connection with a federal RICO indictment after warrants were served early Wednesday at 41 locations, which include a storefront and a strip of rundown buildings.

Those apprehended also include Mexican Mafia and MS-13 leadership figures.

A man is taken into custody by FBI agents Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Los Angeles. Hundreds of federal and local law enforcement fanned out across Los Angeles, serving arrest and search warrants as part of a three-year investigation into the violent and brutal street gang MS-13. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

At the center of the bust was a 41-count racketeering indictment that charges 34 members of MS-13 and five members off the Mexican Mafia with a drug trafficking conspiracy, NBC Los Angeles reported.

“The lead defendant in the RICO indictment is Jose Balmore Romero, also known as “Porky,” 43, who in 2013 and 2014 was the overall shot-caller for MS-13 Los Angeles,” said Deidre Fike, FBI Assistant Director in Charge.

Feds allege Romero, who has remained in custody since 2015, oversaw drug trafficking operations and was also in charge of collecting “extortionate ‘taxes’ and ‘rent,'” on behalf of Mexican Mafia members.

A reporter uses his smartphone to photograph a board showing images of MS-13 gang members during a news conference Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Los Angeles. Hundreds of federal and local law enforcement fanned out across Los Angeles, serving arrest and search warrants as part of a three-year investigation into the violent and brutal street gang MS-13. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Fike said 20 members were arrested in Wednesday’s raids while another 21 were already in custody. Three gang members remain at-large and are considered fugitives.

Prosecutors indicate that the 127-page indictment illustrates how MS-13 “uses violence and intimidation to maintain power and control narcotics trafficking.”

“This gang is responsible for murders – both of rival gangsters and innocent bystanders – as well as drug dealing and extortion in many communities in the Los Angeles area,” said Sandra R. Brown, Acting United States Attorney. “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.”

MS-13 members also reportedly took part in extortion of street-level dealers and business owners who were threatened with death if they did not pay the gang.

The gang also controls illegal after-hours clubs where it makes money from gambling, illegal narcotics, and alcohol sales.

The arrests is the latest blow against the gang in successive days.

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Boston indicted 25-year-old Oscar Duran, also known as “Demente” – an El Salvadorian national who is the reputed national leader of MS-13 for authorizin the brutal killings of Wilson Martinez, 15, and Christofer Perez de la Cruz, 16.

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