Published: Wed, July 17, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

California gang members charged in L.A. machete murders, racketeering

California gang members charged in L.A. machete murders, racketeering

On Tuesday, 22 MS-13 Gang members in the Los Angeles area were charged with murdering seven individuals over the last two years, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

Announced Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Central District of California, the 12-count indictment charges people linked to and members of the Mara Salvatrucha worldwide gang with the killings of seven people who were members of rival gangs, those they believed to be police informants and a homeless man living in a park under the gang's control.

Nick Hanna, the US attorney in Los Angeles, said that the Fulton clique was responsible for 24 murders overall in the Los Angeles area over the past two years.

The 78-page indictment is the latest move against a gang formed decades ago in Los Angeles and which has become a frequent target for President Donald Trump, who evokes its gory killings in his rhetoric against illegal immigration. 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".

A chart showing mugshots of alleged MS-13 gang members indicted on racketeering charges.

The victim was dismembered, his heart cut from his chest and thrown into a canyon with other body parts, according to court papers.

Several of the victims are also recent immigrants, some of them suspected of belonging to rival gangs who had cooperated with authorities in their home countries, Delacourt said. "The prosecution of these defendants would not have been possible without the backing of local law enforcement, including District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who has supported our efforts every step of the way and has dedicated substantial resources to ensure that all of these defendants get the justice they deserve". The other 18 defendants were arrested over the past year, including some who were taken into custody on state and federal charges.

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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 allegations in the indictment are disturbing, not only because of the extreme violence in the killings, but also because most of the defendants are young - only three of the 22 named in the indictment are over the age of 24", Hanna said, adding that two cases were filed against defendants who were juveniles at the time of the murders.

MS-13 Gang member Fernando Garcia Parada poses for a photo wielding a machete and throwing a gang sign in January 2018. The murders, prosecutors say, usually involved MS-13 Gang members brutally murdering their victims using machetes and other "medieval-style" tactics.

MS-13 has about 20 active cliques in Los Angeles, but police had previously said the gang had waned in size and influence recently. The notoriously violent gang originated in El Salvador, but has strongholds in numerous American cities.

"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.

"They are preying on their own communities", Hanna said.

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