In the first major victory for federal prosecutors in against the MS-13 gang in Maryland, a federal jury yesterday convicted two members of the violent Latino street gang of criminal racketeering, reports the Washington Post. The racketeering prosecution is part of an offensive begun by federal authorities last year against a gang that as recently as five years ago was little known outside law enforcement circles and local neighborhoods. Law enforcement officials have blamed dozens of homicides and nonfatal assaults to MS-13 members in the Washington, D.C., area. Federal officials have formed an MS-13 task force, which began operating last year out of FBI headquarters.
Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said “chilling” evidence showed that MS-13 members live by the motto “kill, rape and control.” At least four ex-MS-13 members testified for the government about the gang’s inner workings and about attacks by members. Prosecutors presented evidence that MS-13, made up primarily of immigrants from El Salvador and other Latin American countries, is not a typical street gang but an international criminal conspiracy.