The accused men are in U.S. custody and last week were indicted on 15 counts by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Texas. However, many of them are being prosecuted in districts elsewhere in the U.S.
The DOJ stated that on January 31, 2022, several prisoners who are members of the MS-13 street gang attacked other prisoners who were members of the Mexican mafia and Surenos, which is an association of street gangs that are loyal to the Mexican mafia. They were accused of murdering two people and the attempted murder of two others.
The violence resulted in a lockdown of federal prisons across the country that lasted nearly a week. The government alleged the “planning and execution of a violent attack orchestrated by members of MS-13.” The charges include racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and attempted murder.
Special Agent in Charge James Smith of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in Houston commented on the breadth of the investigation.
“The FBI served as a force multiplier and the lead investigative agency for this case immediately following the murders,” Smith said in the press release.
“In support of this massive investigation, we completed over 100 interviews, conducted over 60 searches, reviewed hours of surveillance footage, and seized countless weapons and contraband. The FBI remains resolute in our commitment to continue working side by side with our law enforcement partners to defeat and deter gang violence anywhere it occurs.”
In addition, Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson of Homeland Security Investigations in Houston called attention to the hazards of foreign gangs.
“Transnational violence gangs are a significant threat to our national security whether they are entrenched within our communities or incarcerated in our correctional facilities,” Dawson said. “This indictment demonstrates our commitment to disrupting and dismantling this threat.”
The DOJ stated that the accused are eligible for life imprisonment or the death penalty if convicted. However, the three defendants who are accused of killing the deceased prisoners were already serving life sentences for murder, racketeering, and other crimes.
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Hayden Sparks is a 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."