Thirty-seven MS-13 gang members have been indicted in Charlotte, North Carolina on numerous offenses including murder and attempted murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina announced Wednesday.
Wednesday morning, a law enforcement dragnet rounded up 16 of the alleged gang members. While five remain “at large” the remaining 16 are in state custody.
“As outlined in today’s indictment, the alleged MS-13 gang members have committed numerous violent crimes, including armed robberies, assaults, and murders, for the benefit of the criminal enterprise,” Jill Westmoreland Rose, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, said in a statement. “Today’s charges send a clear message to gangsters who think their gang affiliation puts them beyond the law’s reach.”
While all 37 alleged gang members have been indicted on racketeering conspiracy charges, 22 of them are charged with additional crimes including those violent felonies Rose indicated.
As the U.S. Attorney’s Office detailed, MS-13 is a criminal gang organization that originated in Los Angeles with membership largely comprised of immigrants and decedents of immigrants from Central America.
“Transnational criminal gangs like MS-13 inflict untold damage in our communities by engaging in violence and trafficking in drugs, weapons and even human beings,” Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta Ryan L. Spradlin added. “This lengthy investigation has uncovered alleged crimes ranging from petty drug deals to capital murder. There is no doubt that North Carolina communities will be safer as a result of these arrests.”
The alleged gang members arrested Wednesday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, have already started making their initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. The 16 in state custody are expected to be transferred to U.S. Marshals to face their federal charges.
Gang activity in Charlotte made national headlines in recent weeks as the Obama administration admitted it improperly granted an illegal immigrant with known gang-ties executive amnesty.
That gang member beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program —Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez — went on to murder four people in Charlotte, including including former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Mirjana Puhar.