More than a dozen alleged members of the violent MS-13 gang, including a person believed to be an operation leader on the East Coast, were indicted by a grand jury in New York on Thursday, officials announced.
Murder and drug trafficking are among the charges leveled in the 21-count indictment against the 17 suspects, who were apprehended amid “one of the most far reaching and extensive investigations into the brutal criminal organization known as MS-13,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said. If convicted, she said the alleged members could face 25 years to life in prison.
The investigation, which initially focused on narcotics trafficking, lasted approximately seven months and stretched from New York to New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Texas. Singas said investigators focused on the Long Island “Hollywood” and “Sailors” cliques, or MS-13 operation cells, and added that the information obtained “will be invaluable to law enforcement agencies around the world.”
"This massive multi-agency investigation laid bare the global size, complexity and brutality of MS-13, and these indictments strike a heavy blow to the gang's operations on Long Island," Singas said. "These alleged gang members have terrorized vulnerable immigrant communities (and) trafficked deadly heroin into our neighborhoods."
The indictment included suspects in the case of the murdered teen, Angel Soler, who disappeared in July. His body was discovered in October in a wooded lot near the Roosevelt-Baldwin border. Soler's remains were one of three discovered close to each other over the course of nine days.
Authorities said Soler was brutally attacked by multiple people and his injuries appeared to be from a machete.
Singas also added that law enforcement agents have thwarted a number of planned attacks during the investigation.
The MS-13 gang, or the Mara Salvatrucha, has become a prime target of President Trump, with both he and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions having highlighted efforts to fight the violent group.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.