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15 Central American Gang Members Arrested For Multiple California Murders

REUTERS

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Over a dozen MS-13 gang members from Honduras and El Salvador were arrested in California Wednesday, according to a law enforcement press conference Thursday.

The murder rate in Santa Maria, Calif., where the 15 gang members were arrested, has gone up significantly since 2015, and police attribute the spike in homicides to the increased presence of the MS-13 gang.

MS-13 has been classified as a transnational criminal organization (TCO) by the U.S. Department of Treasury in 2012. The West Coast hub for the organization is the Los Angeles area, while on the East Coast, MS-13 calls Washington, D.C. home.

The gang has its roots in El Salvador, but is made up of various Central American members from Honduras and Guatemala as well.

A total of 150 law enforcement officers participated in “Operation Matador,” and several of the 15 gang members were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin, who led Thursday’s press conference, told reporters the arrests were the result of many months of investigation and reportedly prevented six murders.

The gang came to Santa Maria about a year and a half ago intent on ruling the drug trade. MS-13 has approximately 50,000 members across the United States.

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