Up to 30 gang members arrested in MS-13 sweep

Hundreds of FBI and L.A. officers join forces across the city in a crackdown on the violent El Salvadoran organization.
By Greg Krikorian
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

1:06 PM PST, November 15, 2007

Hundreds of FBI agents and Los Angeles police fanned out across the city early this morning in what authorities described as one of the largest crackdowns to date on the notorious El Salvadoran street gang known as MS-13.

More than 30 alleged gang members were arrested in the sweep, the latest in a series of law enforcement actions taken nationwide to counter a gang linked to dozens of killings and other violent crimes in the U.S.

Authorities had mistakenly said earlier that they had arrested as many as 70 alleged gang members. They expect to make more arrests.

The federal enforcement actions in this country and Central America have been coordinated by a special gang task force in Washington.

Given the gang’s activities, authorities said that today’s arrests were for a variety of crimes and aimed to disrupt the gang’s criminal enterprise in Los Angeles. The alleged crimes include drug trafficking, parole violations, immigration issues and other violations of law that are serious enough to warrant arrests.

The crackdown focused on the gang’s activities and members in the Rampart and Hollywood areas of Los Angeles, as well as in Lawndale, Burbank and Huntington Park, authorities said.

Agencies involved in the sweep included the Los Angeles Police Department, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the county Probation Department.

Also playing a role was the deputy general of El Salvador’s national police force, which has worked closely with the U.S. in law enforcement efforts.

The arrests mark the latest in coordinated efforts to crack down on violent gang members. Last month, federal authorities announced the arrests of more than 1,300 alleged gang members and their associates during a three-month crackdown in 23 cities, including Los Angeles and San Diego.

Thirty-seven arrests were made in Los Angeles and 128 in San Diego in the “summer surge” operation, which began June 1.

The largest number of individuals arrested this summer were reputed members or associates of the Mara Salvatrucha organization, commonly referred to as MS-13. It is one of the most violent and rapidly growing trans-national street gangs.

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