Thirteen alleged members of the street gang called La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Middle District of Tennessee on charges that they conspired to participate in a violent RICO enterprise responsible for killings and other violent crimes in Nashville. All 13 individuals are currently in federal or state custody.
“This indictment strikes at the heart of the MS-13 organization in Nashville, and continues our efforts to put members of gangs all across the nation on notice that they will be held responsible for the violence and mayhem they cause,” says Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division. “We will utilize the same tools we used to put Mafia leaders behind prison bars to confront the threat posed by violent criminal enterprises like the MS-13.”
U.S. Attorney Craig S. Morford for the Middle District of Tennessee praised the cooperative partnership and outstanding efforts of the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department’s Gang Suppression Unit, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Department of Homeland Security, the Davidson County District Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Tennessee, and the Department of Justice’s newly formed National Gang Squad.
The indictment alleges that the defendants were members or associates of the MS-13 street gang, a violent international criminal organization composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador. The purpose of this enterprise was to preserve and protect the power, territory, and profits of the MS-13 enterprise through violent assault, murder, threats of violence, and intimidation.
According to the indictment, MS-13 members met on a regular basis to report on acts of violence committed by their members with the goal of inciting and encouraging even more violence. Leaders of MS-13 cliques from across the United States allegedly met to discuss gang rules, gang business, problem resolution, and issues involving members of different cliques, and to promote overall unity between MS-13 gang members. Members had to pay dues which were used to support MS-13 gang members imprisoned in various places within the United States, including Middle Tennessee, as well as those in El Salvador.
The indictment further alleges that Nashville-based MS-13 members and associates killed three people, attempted to kill at least seven others, and plotted to shoot or kill several more during 2006 in Nashville.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of life in prison on the RICO conspiracy charge.
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