Crime & Justice

Leader of a gang fighting agency indicted in crackdown of MS 13 street gang

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Los Angeles police and the FBI yesterday announced indictments against two-dozen alleged leaders and associates of the notorious MS 13 street gang. KPCC’s Shirley Jahad reports there are alarming aspects to the case.

This case is even more brazen than most because one of those arrested for gang activity headed a non-profit with a mission to fight gangs. Alex Sanchez was executive director of Homies Unidos, an LA group funded with taxpayer dollars and private donations to help get young men out of gangs. Federal officials say the 37-year-old Sanchez was a leader of MS 13 who worked both sides of the fence.

He is charged in the indictment. He is alleged to be a “shot caller” for the Normandy click of the ms 13 gang.

A “shot caller”, says LA Chief Assistant US Attorney George Cardona, calls the shots for a unit of the gang. He gives orders to the gang members. Sanchez is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Local and federal officials announced the indictments at a news conference in Lafayette Park west of downtown LA. Officials say they also uncovered a plot to murder an LAPD officer. FBI special agent Daniel McMullen says the indictment charges five men in connection with a plan to kill an anti-gang officer who was causing them trouble.

The notion that these gang bangers would seek to murder an LAPD dectective, shows a level of ferocity that needs to be addressed.

FBI officials say they are fighting the MS 13 gang in several states and several countries. MS 13 grew up in Los Angeles more than 20 years ago when families from El Salvador came north to escape civil war. A few got involved in criminal activity. Many were deported to El Salvador and they brought the gang organization with them. Officials say there are Hollywood and Normandie cliques of the gang in the middle of San Salvador.

The FBI’s Daniel McMullen says this latest round of indictments against the notorious transnational street gang amounts to a big blow.

Daniel McMullen: “Every blow helps. It’s not the final blow. But every blow helps. And we’ll continue. We will continue to hammer away at it."

Those indicted face 20 years to life in prison if convicted.