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Charlotte Area

37 Alleged MS-13 Gang Members Face Racketeering And Murder Charges

Federal authorities have charged 37 alleged MS-13 gang members with murder, drug and other crimes. Arrests were made in the Charlotte area Wednesday morning after a federal grand jury handed up indictments a day earlier.

Sixteen alleged members were arrested Wednesday. Another 16 were in state custody on other state charges, and five remain at large.

All are charged with conspiracy to participate in racketeering. Other charges some face include assault and firearms violations.

Three of the defendants are charged with murders that took place in Charlotte and Rock Hill between April of 2011 and June of 2014. They face a maximum penalty of death. Ten other defendants are charged with attempted murder.

Acting U.S. District Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose says the indictments “sends a clear message to gangsters who think their gang affiliation puts them beyond the law’s reach.”

According to the Department of Justice, the MS-13 gang was formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s. Most members have connections in El Salvador or other Central American countries. There are over 6,000 members in the U.S. and 30,000 internationally. There are known MS-13 presences in Mecklenburg, Rowan, Durham and Forsyth counties.