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Feds indict 14 MS-13 gang leaders on terrorism charges

Authorities arrested 21 suspected members of the violent gang MS-13. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

More than a dozen top members of the international MS-13 gang were indicted on terrorism charges Thursday in the highest-reaching takedown of the group ever in the United States, according to federal prosecutors.

The sweeping case targets 14 members of the “Ranfla Nacional,” the upper echelon of MS-13 leadership that operates mostly out of prisons in El Salvador, according to prosecutors. Eleven of the indicted men are currently incarcerated in El Salvador, while three are on the loose.

“We have charged MS-13s highest-ranking leaders with operating a transnational criminal organization that utilizes terror to impose their will on neighborhoods, businesses and innocent civilians across the United States and Central America,” said U.S. Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

The case includes terrorism charges against Borromeo Enrique Henriquez, 42, aka “Diablito de Hollywood,” who is said to be the most powerful member of MS-13. Three other indicted men, Freddy Ivan Jandres-Parada, Cesar Humberto Lopez-Larios and Hugo Armando Quinteros-Mineros have not yet been apprehended. The feds are offering $10,000 for information leading to their arrests.

Federal prosecutors on Long Island brought the charges against the gang leaders for their alleged expansive criminal activity over the past 20 years in the U.S., El Salvador and Mexico, which included creating “military-style training camps” for members as well as obtaining weapons and directing violent acts.

Long Island has long been a locus of the gang’s violence and extortionate enterprises, with the feds prosecuting hundreds of members since 2000.

The indictment marks just the second time anyone from MS-13 has been charged with terrorism-related charges in the United States.

The indictment detailed how MS-13 exerts its will over the Salvadoran government, as well as providing a glimpse into the hierarchy of the gang, which comprises tens of thousands of members in more than 200 “cliques,” according to the charges.

The men’s power over the rest of the gang led to a truce between the Ranfla Nacional and the Salvadoran government between 2012 and 2015, during which the Ranfla Nacional ordered fewer killings in the country in exchange for better prison treatment along with cash from the government, prosecutors said.

After the truce broke down, the Ranfla Nacional stepped up murders and violence in the country, ordering more hits on police officers and members of the military to exact revenge on the government.

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