Federal Indictment Targets 20 MS - 13 Gang Members - Fox 2 News Headlines

Federal Indictment Targets 20 MS - 13 Gang Members

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An FBI - LAPD  joint task force early this morning rounded up nearly 2-dozen  gang members who agents say were involved in a  methamphetamine ring.

That ring is alleged to have direct ties  to the Mexican Mafia. 

FBI agents say this group was pushing meth ,  primarily, in the Hollywood area ,but with tentacles reaching all over the city including Koreatown, and Macarthur and Lafayette parks on the city's Westside.

It is a gang that traces its origins to the civil war in El  Salvador in the 1980s.

Its roots are planted in violence that grew on the streets of Los Angeles.  It is called Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 for short.

And in this federal indictment -- 20 members are named as conspirators in a methamphetamine ring.

FBI agent Tim Delaney:  "This was not a street round-up of low level criminals, but rather targeting the higher up in the organization."

Investigators say Thomas Rodriguez, known as "Big Boy," is an MS-13 shotcaller and mafia associate, or camarada, who oversaw the drug operation on the streets and collected the profits.

Agents say they found  weapons and bags of dope in his house when he was arrested.

And they say part of the drug profits went upstairs to these two imprisoned Mexican Mafia members: Luis "Lil One" Vega and Jose "Dreamer" Rodriguez.

The  Mexican Mafia controls and operates the ring  from the prisons.  As part of that , LAPD detectives say five of the MS-13 conspirators are also charged with extortion for beating and shaking down another gangster.

This undercover LAPD detective worked the case: "They basically told him this is your last warning.  If you don't pay us, it's going to end badly for you.  If he didn't reach out to law enforcement, he was afraid he would be killed."

Detectives say that victim is now in a place where the gangster can't get to him.

If convicted, these suspects face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.

FBI agent in charge Tim Delaney says he be levies today's arrests take "a very serious bite" out of the gang's leadership.

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