Crime & Justice

Gang sweep in LA nabs anti-gang leader

Local and federal officials today announced indictments against two-dozen leaders and members of the notorious MS 13 street gang. One of the men in custody headed up a non-profit group that was supposed to fight gangs.

Alex Sanchez was executive director of Homies Unidos. Now the 37-year-old immigrant is in custody, as FBI Special Agent Daniel McMullen told KPCC’s Shirley Jahad.

Daniel McMullen: "As is alleged in the indictment, he is believed to be a 'shot caller' for MS 13 in one of their clicks, so he is considered a leader."
Shirley Jahad: "And he was supposed to be doing gang intervention?"
McMullen: "Yeah, that’s right."
Jahad: "So he was working both sides?"
McMullen: "Yes. That’s what we allege, that he was basically working both sides."

Civil liberties advocates fought efforts to deport Sanchez more than a decade ago. But civil rights attorney Connie Rice says in recent years, Sanchez seemed unwilling to help other anti-gang workers who were targeted by gang members. Rice, who serves on KPCC's board, says that can be a sign that an anti-gang leader is slipping back to the old life.

Five other alleged gang members are accused of conspiring to kill an LAPD detective investigating the MS 13 street gang.