Prosecutors say the defendants committed “brutal” murders that included “mutilation and dismemberment with machetes.” One victim was a police informant and another was a child.
The charges include racketeering conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering, obstruction of justice, and firearms violations related to the crimes. The men are accused of committing seven murders, attempting one murder, and one murder conspiracy.
Prosecutors allege that the crimes were committed in Texas and Maryland beginning around 2015. The murders in question were committed from 2015 to 2018.
“Over the past several years, law enforcement uncovered several alleged homicides and attempted murders related to these cliques and their associates,” the DOJ explained. “The investigation revealed that these criminal acts were committed to maintain the gang’s control, to retaliate against rival gangs and to seek retribution against those who were believed to have cooperated with law enforcement against the gang.”
The youngest defendant is 22 while the oldest accused murderer is 37. Most of the men are 30 or younger.
“Leaders in El Salvador and elsewhere allegedly authorized the acts to ensure individual members and cliques followed the customs, rules, and protocols of the larger MS-13 enterprise,” the news release stated.
Two of the individuals are in El Salvador while the others are in American custody. The DOJ did not state whether Salvadoran authorities had apprehended them.
Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston commented on the violence committed by MS-13.
“As demonstrated by the allegations in today’s indictments, transnational criminal street gangs like MS-13 are a plague upon society that must be rooted out in the interest of public safety and national security,” Dawson said. “HSI Houston is committed to continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring an end to the relentless terror and violence that they reign on the innocent and law-abiding members of our communities.”
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."