3 arrested alleged MS-13 leaders accused of directing murders; others sought
NEW YORK - Federal prosecutors have announced charges against more than a dozen alleged high-ranking leaders of the international gang MS-13, accusing them of directing criminal activities, including murder in the United States, El Salvador, Mexico, and other countries over the past two decades.
An indictment unsealed Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice in the Eastern District of New York details charges against 13 defendants, including racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to provide or conceal material support to terrorists, and narco-terrorism conspiracy.
Miguel Angel Serrano-Medina. (FBI)
Four of the alleged gang leaders were expelled from Mexico and arrested by the FBI at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on Wednesday, according to a Justice Department statement.
According to prosecutors, they face additional charges, including alien smuggling conspiracy resulting in death and could receive the death penalty if convicted.
Four other co-defendants are at large, while the rest are believed to be in custody in El Salvador pending possible extradition, the statement said.
RELATED: Teen MS-13 gang member arrested for murder of Maryland autistic woman, 20
The 13 defendants are part of MS-13’s command structure and play significant leadership roles in the organization’s international operations, according to the court filing.
Prosecutors said they authorized and directed violence including multiple murders in the United States, Mexico and elsewhere as part of an effort to expand MS-13’s influence and territorial control.
In El Salvador, the alleged gang leaders operated military-style training camps for firearms and explosives, according to the indictment.
"The defendants have actively engaged in public displays of violence to threaten and intimidate civilian populations, to obtain and control territory and to manipulate the electoral process in El Salvador," the DOJ statement said.
RELATED: Feds: Teenage MS-13 associate lured young men to massacre
MS-13 is suspected of forging alliances with Mexican cartels and engaging in narcotics trafficking; immigrant smuggling and extortion; kidnappings; and weapons trafficking, the indictment said.
The Associated Press contributes to this report.