PROSECUTORS: MS-13 Committed Gruesome Killings w/ Knives, Machetes,

‘Officials believe the gang is attempting to establish a foothold by directly challenging rival gangs…’

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MS-13 members/IMAGE: Vice via Youtube

(James Queally and Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times) Members of the notorious MS-13 street gang were charged in a years-long string of grisly homicides in the Los Angeles area, including some in which victims were hacked to death in the Angeles National Forest.

Members of the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI are expected to announce the unsealing of an indictment against several members of the gang during a news conference Tuesday in downtown L.A., according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

The charges involve at least seven homicides, many of which were recorded by the perpetrators, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the case candidly.

Most of the killings involved knives or machetes, and several of the victims’ bodies were dumped in remote, hilly, areas, the officials said.

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Some of the suspects were high school students at the time of the slayings, one official said.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the killings.

Spokesmen for the LAPD and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles declined to comment ahead of the news conference.

While the LAPD has said in recent years that MS-13 has become less of a factor in city crime, the gang has become a frequent focus of President Donald Trump’s diatribes about crime and illegal immigration.

He has often cited the organization, which was formed in Los Angeles several decades ago, as evidence of the need for increased deportation efforts.

Last month, the LAPD arrested several members of the gang as part of a broader investigation into a series of violent events in North Hollywood, including the murder of a 34-year-old homeless man in January.

In a statement, the department had said it noticed an uptick in MS-13 graffiti in the San Fernando Valley.

“Over the past year, tagging and other evidence of MS-13’s presence has been observed at multiple locations throughout the Valley,” the department said in the statement. “Officials believe the gang is attempting to establish a foothold by directly challenging rival gangs in the area.”

©2019 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.