Officials announced Tuesday that 22 members and associates of the MS-13 transnational gang have been charged with a series of murders in the Angeles National Forest.
The United States Attorney’s Office described those charged as members of the Fulton Clique, a particularly violent subset of the gang operating in the San Fernando Valley. The Fulton Clique’s initiation ritual involved murdering enemies of the gang, prosecutors said.
Many of these “enemies” were immigrants looking for a better life, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. Lacey’s office assisted federal authorities investigating MS-13.
“The greatest tragedy in these cases is that these young victims likely left their homelands hopeful that in the United States they would find safety and prosperity,” Lacey said. “Instead, these victims had the misfortune of crossing paths with violent gang members who preyed on the vulnerabilities of their immigrant experience.”
According to U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna, one of the murders involved kidnapping a rival believed to have defaced MS-13 graffiti. He was driven to a remote location in the Angeles National Forest, where six people attacked him with a machete. The victim was dismembered, and his body parts were thrown into a canyon after one of the defendants allegedly cut the heart out of the victim’s body.
The indictments also include conspiracy to traffic drugs, four counts of first-degree murder related to machete and baseball bat killings in the Angeles National Forest, and two other murders in Los Angeles.
Paul Delacourt, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, called the violence “medieval-style” and “senseless,” adding that such violence will not be tolerated in Los Angeles.
“Working with our local partners, we expect to impact MS-13’s influence in gang-occupied communities,” Delacourt said.