Federal and state law enforcement officers arrested 13 alleged MS-13 gang members and associates on charges of extortion, money laundering, and illegal use of firearms. The arrests followed a multi-state investigation involving alleged gang members in Ohio and Indiana.
Ten of the individuals are now under a federal indictment charging conspiracy to commit extortion, money laundering, and the use of a firearm during a crime of violence. Five people are facing charges in a criminal complaint alleging immigration violations. Two of the 15 people remain at large.
“Transnational gangs like MS-13 are an insidious source of violence and other forms of criminal activity in far too many American communities,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Enforcement and Removal Operations Detroit Field Office Director Rebecca Adducci said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “ICE will continue to use its broad authorities to attack and dismantle these gangs.”
The 10 people indicted are said to be members of the Columbus, Ohio, clique of the hyperviolent MS-13 gang. The indictment charges the gang members and associates conspired to commit extortion by threatening the use of violence, or actually using violence, to intimidate victims into paying money to the gang and its co-conspirators. The money ended up being sent via wire transfer to El Salvador, the headquarters for the transnational criminal gang. The proceeds of the extortion operation would then be used to carry out criminal activities of the MS-13 gang in El Salvador or elsewhere in the U.S.
ICE officials stated:
As part of the alleged conspiracy, the defendants and their co-conspirators unlawfully obtained extortion proceeds to be used to, among other things, buy items that MS-13 uses to engage in criminal activity, such as cellular phones, narcotics and weapons; provide financial support and information to MS-13 members, including those incarcerated in El Salvador and the United States, as well as those who have been deported; and aid families of deceased MS-13 members.
The conspiracy to commit extortion and money laundering charges could earn the gang members up to 20 years in federal prison. The use of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime can add at least seven years to the end of any other sentencing under federal laws targeting the use of firearms by criminals.