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21 Suspected High-Level Members Of MS-13 Arrested In L.A. During Overnight Crackdown

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The Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs (LAMTFVG) announced Wednesday morning that it has arrested about 21 members of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) overnight in connection with a federal racketeering indictment that names 44 defendants. The LAMTFVG is a partnership between the FBI, LAPD, and other authorities.

According to a press release by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the former Los Angeles head of MS-13 (Jose "Porky" Balmore Romero, who ran MS13 Los Angeles in 2013 and 2014) was arrested, along with 12 senior leaders of the gang.

“This gang is responsible for murders - both of rival gangsters and innocent bystanders - as well as drug dealing and extortion in many communities in the Los Angeles area,” Sandra R. Brown, Acting United States Attorney, said. “With thousands of members here in the Southland, the gang’s power is widespread - power which it maintains with severe acts of violence. Today’s charges and arrests, however, will deal a critical blow to the top leadership of this criminal organization and will significantly improve safety in neighborhoods across this region.”

“This operation is a powerful example of the significant impact partnerships play in law enforcement,” LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck added. “The successful arrest of these individuals was only possible because a wide range of agencies collaborated with each other, based on information gleaned from countless investigation hours and tips provided by people who could trust our police officers, regardless of their immigration status.”

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The arrests were made in connection to a 41-count federal Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act indictment that charges 34 members of MS13. Separate murder charges for three of the gang members, and various narcotics and firearm charges were filed against two additional MS13 members. The Mexican Mafia is also charged in the case, as it is believed the two gangs established a partnership for drug trafficking.

LAist reached out to both the FBI Los Angeles field office and the U.S. Attorney's Central District office for comment. Neither was available to respond at the time.