Nine members of La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Nashville, Tennessee, for seven murders and five attempted murders, as well as numerous robberies, kidnappings and assaults, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release.
The 60 counts are for drug distribution, racketeering and violent crime conspiracy, which span more than seven years for the members of a “clique” operating in Nashville, called the Thompson Place Locos Salvatrucha, according to the press release. The statutory penalties for the charged offenses in the clique’s indictment range from a maximum of 10 years to life imprisonment.
MS-13 is a transnational gang that consists mostly of individuals of Salvadoran or Central American descent, according to court documents and statements made in court. Branches of MS-13, that are called cliques operate throughout the U.S.
The press release said the purpose of the MS-13 enterprise is to preserve and protect “the power, territory, reputation and profits of the enterprise through the use of intimidation and violence,” which includes murder, robbery, drug trafficking and other criminal activities.
Nine MS-13 Gang Members Indicted in Racketeering and Violent Crime Conspiracy
Allegations Include Seven Murders, Five Attempted Murders, Witness Tampering, Numerous Assaults and Drug Distribution
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) July 28, 2021
MS-13 gang members usually target people with violence if they believe that they are a rival gang member or a potential witness to crimes its members have committed, the press release said. MS-13 members are required to follow certain rules, which includes prohibition of cooperating with law enforcement, a rule that is punishable by death if broken.
Members are also required to confront, fight or kill rival gang members when possible and retaliate “quickly and viciously against anyone who disrespects or threatens the gang’s authority, power, reputation or control of a neighborhood,” the press release said. By participating in violent acts members can increase their respect, which can result in a promotion or leadership position.
In a letter to acting Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Commissioner Troy Miller, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson asked for data “on apprehensions of criminals, including confirmed gang members, at the southern border,” and how many had prior convictions, entered the U.S. as unaccompanied children or tried to enter in a large migrants group, which Border Patrol chiefs have said gang members often try, Fox News reported.
Johnson said the arrests of immigrants and potential gang members “underscore the urgency needed to address the border crisis” and said the Biden administration has failed “to enact policies to address the crisis at the border.”
Last July, former President Donald Trump and former Attorney General William Barr announced cases in the existing Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), which was launched in August 2019 with the goal of disrupting, dismantling and eventually destroying MS-13. The cases included an MS-13 member charged with terrorism-related offenses for the first time, a “coordinated multi-district takedown of the leadership” of the MS-13 clique in Hollywood and Barr’s decision to seek the death penalty against an MS-13 defendant.
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