Federal Prosecutors Charge MS-13 Drug Suspects Linked To Mexican Mafia Leader
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles charged 23 alleged members and associates of the MS-13 gang in a conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, authorities announced Tuesday. Speaking at a news conference in downtown L.A., E. Martin Estrada, the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, called drug sales “the lifeblood” of the gang, which was born 40 years ago in Los Angeles before deported members carried it back to their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. In California, prosecutors said, MS-13 answers to the Mexican Mafia, an organization of about 140 men who control Latino gang members on the streets, in county jails and in state and federal prisons. The grand jury indictment charges that a Mexican Mafia member controlled MS-13’s drug sales from prison, requiring the “shot callers,” or supervisors of each of the gang’s 20 cliques in Los Angeles, to buy methamphetamine from Herlyn “Doctorazo” Barrientos, 46, of Huntington Park. The shot callers either sold the drugs themselves to raise funds for their cliques, or distributed the narcotics to dealers who paid a “tax” to the gang, Estrada said. Although the Mexican Mafia member wasn’t charged or named in the indictment, Estrada identified him as Ray Martinez. A member of MS-13’s Fulton clique nicknamed Cisco, Martinez, 50, has been in state prison since 1996 serving a sentence of life without parole for murder and robbery, records show.
Los Angeles Times