MS-13 gang sweep in Ohio, Indiana nets 13 arrests

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 16, 2017

"I think that there are probably many people in Columbus who didn't know that MS-13 was here before yesterday, but for those people and communities who were being extorted by its members, it was a very big problem", Benjamin Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of OH, said Wednesday on "FOX & Friends".

Thirteen alleged members of the MS-13 gang were arrested in Central Ohio and in on Tuesday morning.

"With more than 10,000 members across 40 states, MS-13 is one of the most unsafe criminal organizations in the United States today", Attorney General Sessions said. Five more with links to the transnational criminal organization were charged with federal immigration offenses.

MS-13, also called Mara Salvatrucha, is believed to have been founded as a neighborhood street gang in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s by immigrants fleeing a civil war in El Salvador. It grew after some members were deported to El Salvador, helping turn that country into one of the most violent places in the world. The Mara Salvatrucha is considered to be a substantial global crime enterprise comprised of "tens of thousands" of members in Central America, and it is now in many states in America. Some of the highest-ranking MS-13 gang leaders are now imprisoned in El Salvador.

The United States attorney for the Ohio Southern District told the press that the MS-13 members charged earlier today belong to the group's "Columbus clique".

Generally, Glassman says, gang members in the US target the Latino community. The gang has more than 10,000 members active in America and is now operating in at least 40 states, WOSU radio reports.

Eight of the 10 also face charges of money laundering, and 5 are charged with brandishing a firearm during the alleged extortion.

The indictment alleges the 10 "conspired to commit extortion through the use of threatened or actual force, violence or fear to intimidate their victims into paying money to the defendants and their co-conspirators".

Law enforcement officials believe the bulk of the extortion money allegedly received by the suspected MS-13 gang members was sent primarily via wire transfers to El Salvador and to recipients in other foreign lands. The funds were used to enhance violent gang activity in both El Salvador and the United States, according to the Justice Department.

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