More than 3,800 face gang charges across 4 coun­tries

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By OWEN BOSS — owen.boss@boston­her­ald.com

More than 3,800 MS-13 and 18th Street gang mem­bers in the U.S. and Cen­tral Amer­ica are fac­ing crim­i­nal charges in the wake of a mas­sive in­ter­na­tional ef­fort dubbed Op­er­a­tion Re­gional Shield, which led to the in­dict­ment of a re­puted East Coast leader, au­thor­i­ties said.

The nearly 4,000 peo­ple who will be ar­raigned on crim­i­nal charges stem­ming from the op­er­a­tion in­clude 12 in Hon­duras, 70 in the U.S., 284 in Gu­atemala and more than 1,400 in El Sal­vador, at­tor­neys gen­eral from the U.S., El Sal­vador, Gu­atemala and Hon­duras an­nounced yes­ter­day while mark­ing the six-month an­niver­sary of U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions’ com­mit­ment to com­bat­ing transna­tional crime.

Among the Amer­i­cans, who are fac­ing charges in Cal­i­for­nia, Mary­land, Mas­sachusetts, New York, Ohio and Virginia, is Ed­win Man­ica Flores — known as “Sugar” — who was in­dicted in fed­eral court in Bos­ton for di­rect­ing lo­cal “cliques” op­er­at­ing in MS-13’s “East Coast Pro­gram,” of­fi­cials said.

Flores is the re­puted leader of MS-13’s Everett Loco Sal­va­trucha clique and one of the gang’s re­gional lead­er­ship based in El Sal­vador. He is in jail in the Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­try and au­thor­i­ties ex­pect to seek his ex­tra­di­tion.

“MS-13 is one of the most vi­o­lent and ruth­less gangs in Amer­ica today, en­dan­ger­ing com­mu­ni­ties in more than 40 states. But un­der Pres­i­dent Trump’s strong lead­er­ship, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice is tak­ing them off our streets,” Ses­sions said in a state­ment.

“Today, we are an­nounc­ing that our part­ner­ship with law en­force­ment in Cen­tral Amer­ica has yielded charges against more than 3,800 gang mem­bers just in the last six months. More than 70 of th­ese de­fen­dants were liv­ing in the United States, from Cal­i­for­nia to Ohio to Bos­ton. MS-13 co­or­di­nates across our bor­ders to kill, rape, and traf­fic drugs and un­der­age girls; we’ve got to co­or­di­nate across our bor­ders to stop them. That’s ex­actly what our coura­geous and pro­fes­sional DOJ agents and at­tor­neys are do­ing.”

‘MS-13 co­or­di­nates across our bor­ders to kill, rape, and traf­fic drugs and un­der­age girls; we’ve got to co­or­di­nate across our bor­ders to stop them.’ — JEFF SES­SIONS U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral

AP PHOTO, ABOVE; AP FILE PHOTO, LEFT

WORK­ING ACROSS BOR­DERS: Act­ing As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken­neth A. Blanco an­nounced at a news con­fer­ence yes­ter­day that Op­er­a­tion Re­gional Shield has led to charges against thou­sands of MS-13 and 18th Street gang mem­bers across Cen­tral Amer­ica and the United States.

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