Police: L.A.-based gang busted up in Denver
DENVER ” An investigation that included FBI agents operating in El Salvador produced the indictments of 20 people trying to establish a branch of the MS-13 gang in Denver, authorities said Tuesday.
Sixteen of those indicted were in custody following the arrests of seven people in the Denver area Tuesday and one person in Los Angeles, the U.S. Justice Department and the Denver-area Metro Gang Task Force said. They face several charges, including conspiracy to distribute drugs in Colorado and in California’s High Desert State Prison.
Also known as Mara Salvatrucha (MAHR’-uh sahl-vuh-TROO’-chuh), the gang originated among Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles during the 1980s and has spread throughout the United States. It has an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 members in 42 U.S. states, said Washington-based FBI Deputy Assistant Director Daniel D. Roberts.
Roberts said FBI agents in El Salvador helped develop intelligence that led to the Denver indictments. The investigation will expand to Belize, Honduras and Guatemala, where the gang also operates, he added.
Acting U.S. Attorney David Gaouette said the three-year probe initially focused on an MS-13 clique called the Normandy Locos.
Those in custody include Gerardo Lopez, 31, of Denver, and Jose Garcia-Sanchez, 26, of suburban Aurora. Both face charges of conspiracy to distribute, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana.
Some of those indicted also face firearms charges.
Denver Police Deputy Chief of Operations Michael Battista said authorities wanted to stop the gang before it sank deep roots in Denver.
“In taking down these members of MS-13, we did accomplish that,” he said.
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