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21 alleged gang members taken into custody

California authorities reportedly took 21 members of a notorious street gang called Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, into custody on May 17. Federal prosecutors also indicted 44 people, which included those 21 as well as others who were already in custody. The charges the individuals were facing ranged from extortion to murder.

MS-13 is notorious for being responsible for the murders of innocent bystanders and rival gang members in the Los Angeles area. The gang is also reportedly involved in drug dealing and extortion. Further, the gang made money operating underground clubs with prostitution. This crackdown was the largest action that has ever been taken against MS-13. The investigation began three years ago under former President Barack Obama. It was noted that the individuals' immigration statuses were not the focus of the investigations.

Throughout the investigation, the agencies involved used witnesses and victims to help them identify gang members. While some of these individuals are legal U.S. residents, more than half are illegal immigrants.

Murder is one of the most serious allegations a person can face. People who are convicted of murder could face a prison sentence that could last for decades. Once released from prison, they may be unable to move on and gain steady employment due to their criminal record. As such, a criminal law attorney may work to prepare a strong defense against the murder charges or, in some cases, seek a plea agreement with the prosecution that would involve a guilty plea to a lesser offense in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Source: Reuters, "Dozens charged in largest-ever Los Angeles raid against MS-13 gang", Alex Dobuzinskis, May 17, 2017

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