GREENBELT, Md. – Nineteen men were charged in a federal racketeering indictment that accuses them of killings and other violent crimes as members of the MS-13 (search) gang.
The indictments released Thursday say the men committed shootings, kidnappings and other gang-related crimes from April 2003 through June of this year. Six people were slain and gang members allegedly attempted to kill five others.
Montgomery County (search) police arrested 12 people this month after MS-13-related attacks in which six teens were stabbed at a high school and shopping mall. Prince George's County (search) police are investigating possible MS-13 links to recent stabbings as well.
The federal indictment, which a grand jury handed up Tuesday, accuses the 19 men of violating federal racketeering law. It does not charge them with individual crimes such as homicide or assault.
MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha (search), originated in Los Angeles among Central American immigrants. An estimated 10,000 MS-13 members are in the United States, many in the Washington suburbs, which have a large population of Central American immigrants.
Federal prosecutors said the gang divided into "cliques" that operated locally under the MS-13 name.
At least one of the men indicted in the federal case has been charged in state court with murder. Everec Alvarez Chacon allegedly helped kill a member of a rival gang last year. One MS-13 member has already been convicted of murder in that case, and another defendant pleaded guilty to lesser charges.