The gruesome slayings were among seven Los Angeles-area murders linked to the Fulton clique of MS-13 in the last two years, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday that charged 22 members of the gang, majority in connection with first-degree murder and racketeering.
The FBI conducted the investigation in conjunction with Los Angeles police, county sheriff's department and the district attorney's office.
Three people named in the indictment were arrested over the past few days in the Los Angeles area, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Taking violent offenders off the street should send a message to MS-13 members and their associates that medieval-style violence and senseless murder will not be tolerated in Los Angeles", Paul Delacourt of the FBI Los Angeles office said in a statement.
The federal RICO indictment with the murder charges targets an MS-13 group in the San Fernando Valley and spells out other acts of violence prosecutors say were committed on behalf of the notorious transnational gang, which President Trump has vilified for its wanton violence in NY and other places.
This undated Federal Bureau of Investigation photo shows MS-13 member Sergio Alexander Galindo, nickname "Dragon" or "Killer" who is wanted by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Crime. The statement says that youngsters who wanted to join MS-13 were "required to kill an MS-13 rival or someone perceived to be adverse to MS-13 to be initiated into MS-13".
For example, the indictment states that in one murder, six of the MS-13 Gang members charged kidnapped, choked, and attacked a rival gang member with a machete. "The victim was dismembered, and one of the defendants allegedly cut his heart out before throwing the body parts into a canyon". Jackie Lacey, whose office will prosecute several of the defendants on murder charges at the state level.
All 22 of the alleged MS-13 affiliates are in custody. "They were alone looking to fit in with others from native countries", said Los Angeles County Dist. Atty.
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"These gang members sought out young victims in their teens and in their early 20s who were new to this country", Lacey said. The notoriously violent gang originated in El Salvador, but has strongholds in numerous American cities.
The superseding indictment announced today, which was returned by a federal grand jury on July 9, adds 15 defendants to an indictment filed in March.
"Fulton clique members routinely gathered and met at Whitsett Park to sell drugs, ingest drugs, extort park vendors, discuss gang business, and commit acts of violence, including shootings and robberies", the indictment said.
Prosecutors say photos show MS-13 gang members flashing gang signs and displaying guns and showing off an MS-!3 tattoo.
With help from local officials, federal authorities have charged 22 MS-13 members linked to this recent spate of violence they believe to have resulted from certain factions of the transnational gang attempting to exert dominance in Los Angeles.
"So, as you can see, they are preying on their own communities", he said.
Prosecutors waited until the defendants had all been arrested before unsealing the indictment, which alleges 16 of the defendants took part in slayings.