Nearly all of the members and associates of an MS-13 gang charged in the “medieval-style” slayings of seven people in California were in the country illegally, officials said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles charged 22 people linked to a subset of the vicious gang that's known as the Fulton clique, members of which are suspected in nearly 200 crimes in several states over 9 years, according to a federal indictment released Tuesday.
Authorities said "503" represents the sub-group of MS-13 and is the telephone country code for El Salvador.
The brutality involved in some of the alleged killings was also disclosed in graphic detail by authorities. Four of the killings took place in Angeles National Forest. The slayings were carried out using machetes, bats and knives, according to the indictment.
In one case a member of a rival gang who had been believed to have defaced MS-13 graffiti was targeted and had his heart cut out of his chest, authorities said.
On March 6, 2017, the victim, identified as “J.S.,” was driven to Angeles National Forest, where six MS-13 gang members attacked him with a machete, killing him, the indictment claimed.
“The victim was dismembered and his body parts were thrown into a canyon after one of the defendants allegedly cut the heart out of the victim’s body,” a news release from Hanna’s office said.
Hanna released photos showing MS-13 members displaying a machete, gang signs and guns in various poses.
Sixteen of the 22 people indicted are charged in connection with six slayings, which officials said were so "heinous, cruel or depraved" that the defendants are eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors have not said whether they intend to seek capital punishment, however.