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Latest federal indictment nets nine gang members


Nine new defendants and a series of previously uncharged murders are included in a Los Angeles federal grand jury indictment unsealed this week that significantly expands a wide-ranging racketeering indictment targeting an arm of a transnational street gang.

The 18-count updated indictment, which was unsealed following the arrests of four defendants this week, alleges that members and associates of a San Fernando Valley subset of the gang murdered 11 people, five of whom were hacked to death with machetes or knives in the Angeles National Forest.

The indictment, which was filed on Aug. 5, adds nine defendants to the previous version of the indictment and nearly doubles the number of charged murders, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In addition to murders previously charged in the case—including one in which the victim was dismembered—the new indictment includes the January 2019 murder of a man who was fatally shot in a remote area near Santa Clarita and whose remains were not recovered until the Tick Fire burned the area 10 months later.

Of the 11 murders alleged in the indictment, five victims allegedly were killed with machetes or knives, while six allegedly were shot to death. All 11 murders are alleged to have been committed “for the purpose of gaining entry to and maintaining and increasing position’’ of the gang in Los Angeles, prosecutors wrote in the document filed in federal court.

The 111-page updated indictment names 31 defendants, 21 of whom are charged with conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt

Organizations (RICO) Act. The RICO charge alleges nearly 300 “overt acts,’’ including acts involving murder, drug trafficking and extortion.

The new indictment was unsealed just before scheduled arraignments for three new defendants who were taken into custody in the Los Angeles area. The fourth new defendant was arrested in Colorado. Two new defendants were already in federal custody, and three were already in state custody.