A top MS-13 leader was secretly recorded urging the heads of regional MS-13 gangs to work together, cautioning them about snitches and ordering them to send money back to gang leadership in El Salvador, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday as federal officials announced he was one of the thousands of gang members indicted in the past six months.
The leader, Edwin Manica Flores, was in El Salvador when he called in to a meeting held at the Richmond, Virginia home of the leader of the gang’s “East Coast Program” in December 2015. The leaders of MS-13 cliques in Boston, Houston, Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina were also in attendance, the indictment states. Flores was charged with racketeering and is in custody in El Salvador, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts tells Newsweek.
“Many of the cliques up there [in the U.S.] are very independent and stupidly insist that this is their side, others are somewhere else with their side, and in the meanwhile, the enemy are filling up the turfs around us,” Flores, who also goes by “Sugar,” told the assembled gang leaders. “So what we are asking is total cooperation … Let’s carry out the work of Mara Salvatrucha.”
Flores’s indictment came the same day the Department of Justice announced a major operation that over the past six months led to charges against 3,800 gang members across Central America and the U.S. The operation targeted the MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs and stemmed from a March meeting between U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the attorneys general from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
MS-13 is the only gang ever designated by the U.S. government as a “transnational criminal organization,” with 10,000 members in the U.S. and 40,000 members in Central America, according to the indictment. Since Sessions was appointed by President Donald Trump and took office in February, he has focused relentlessly on MS-13. Last week in…