The beating death of a Maryland teenager and the armed holdup of a grocer were carried out by members of MS-13, a violent street gang whose leaders gave orders from inside a prison in El Salvador, charged a federal racketeering indictment reported by the Baltimore Sun. Officially known as Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13 has long had a prominent and violent foothold in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. The 30-count indictment makes it clear that the gang’s activity has spread throughout the Baltimore region, and law enforcement experts say it has expanded to far-flung corners of the state.
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the new charges significantly expand a sweeping, two-year-old federal prosecution of the gang in Maryland. “For several years now, we have acknowledged at least the presence of people associated with several violent gangs, including MS-13, in Howard County,” said William J. McMahon, the police chief of the county near Baltimore. “It makes us want to redouble our efforts in tracking people who may be involved in gang activity, but I certainly don’t think by any stretch of the imagination that we are overrun with a gang issue.”