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Four alleged MS-13 gang members indicted for murders, kidnap, other crimes in Nevada

The charges were announced just a day after Sen. Chuck Grassley wrote to the DOJ asking about the status of an MS-13 task force.

Updated: August 4, 2021 - 9:20pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Four alleged members of the MS-13 gang have been charged in a racketeering conspiracy that involves murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and drug trafficking, the Department of Justice announced. The charges stem from crimes allegedly committed by a clique operating in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The overall gang, also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, has more than 10,000 members inside the United States, and thousands more in Central America and Mexico, officials said.

"The Criminal Division and our federal, state and local partners are committed to dismantling violent gangs like MS-13," Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the DOJ's Criminal Division said in an Aug. 4 statement. "The violence alleged in the superseding indictment in this case is truly shocking. The murder spree carried out by MS-13 in Las Vegas clearly shows the danger posed by organized street gangs like MS-13."

The arrests dealt a blow to the gang's local operations, officials said.

“Taking violent offenders off the street should send a message to MS-13 members and their associates that violence and murder will not be tolerated in Las Vegas,” said Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office. “Working with our local partners, we are committed to staying in the fight until this plague is purged from our communities.”

Two of the individuals charged are scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 10. If they are convicted, the mandatory sentence is life in prison, officials said.

Both the FBI and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Homicide Bureau are investigating the case, which is part of an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

A day before the DOJ's statement, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the Department requesting an update on its Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), which was designed "to serve as a strategic and comprehensive collaboration between federal, local, and international law enforcement to combat and disrupt MS-13," he wrote.

The DOJ had not provided updates on JTFV in several months, Grassley wrote in the letter. Grassley asked if the task force still exists; and, if it does, how the budget or personnel numbers have changed.

In his letter, Grassley noted that from 2017 to 2020, more than 3 million illegal immigrants had been encountered or arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, "averaging about 750,000 people a year," with 294 of them being MS-13 gang members. However, this year, more than 1.2 million illegal immigrants have been found or arrested, but only 71 MS-13 gang members have been apprehended.

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