US Busts Dozens of MS-13 Gang Suspects

Published: 04 September 2018

704px-MS-13 tattoo 2MS-13 tattoo (U.S. government)

By Lucy Papachristou

US authorities arrested last Thursday more than 20 suspected members of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang, better known as MS-13, for assault, racketeering and drug dealing. The Department of Justice also unsealed two indictments against more gang members, charging them with kidnapping, murder and racketeering.


The suspects were arrested in Mendota and Los Angeles, California, after police found evidence of widespread criminal activity in the area, including murder, assault, firearms possession and drug trafficking.

Salvadoran immigrants established MS-13 in the 1980s in Los Angeles to protect themselves from other, more established gangs which were predominantly composed of Mexicans and African-Americans.

Many MS-13 members were deported by US authorities but then continued to recruit members across Central America. In El Salvador, authorities estimate that half a million residents out of the 6.5 are involved in gangs, according to media reports. Turf wars contributed to the world’s highest homicide rate for people under the age of 19. In 2016, 540 Salvadoran minors were murdered—an average of 1.5 every day.

The gang operates in at least 42 US states and in Washington, D.C., according to the FBI.

“MS-13 is a brutal transnational criminal organization that has wreaked havoc in communities across the United States, said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“Dismantling MS-13 and other violent gangs that terrorize our streets will remain a top priority of the Department of Justice,” he added.