(CNSNews.com) - The Justice Department announced Tuesday that 13 members and associates of the MS-13 gang were arrested in Central Ohio and Indiana.
A total of 15 suspected MS-13 members were charged with federal crimes - 10 of them with conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to commit money laundering and use of a firearm during a crime of violence. Five defendants were charged with reentering the country after deportation. Two of the 15 alleged MS-13 gang members are fugitives.
“With more than 10,000 members across 40 states, MS-13 is one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the United States today," said Attorney General Sessions. "MS-13 members have killed children and pregnant women, extorted immigrant-owned businesses, and trafficked underage girls to sell them for sex. President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to reduce crime and take down transnational criminal organizations, and we will be relentless in our pursuit of these objectives. Today's charges are our next step toward making this country safer by taking MS-13 off of our streets for good.”
MS-13, once known as La Mara Salvatrucha, has been designated as a "transnational criminal organization" - the first and only street gang to be designated as such.
According to the indictment, 10 defendants conspired to commit extortion through the use of threatened or actual force, violence or fear to intimidate their victims into paying money to the defendants and their co-conspirators. The money from these crimes was sent through wire transfers and intermediaries to MS-13 gang members and associates in El Salvador - where the gang originated - and elsewhere.
That money was used to promote and facilitate criminal activities of MS-13 in El Salvador and the U.S., according to the DOJ. It was used to buy cell phones, drugs, and weapons, and to financially support MS-13 and those gang members that are jailed in El Saldavor and the U.S., as well as those who were deported and the families of dead MS-13 members.