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Federal indictment targets MS-13, anti-gang activist

June 24, 2009 | 12:09 pm

Federal authorities said today they have arrested two dozen members and associates of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, who were allegedly involved in a series of crimes in Los Angeles over the last 15 years, including conspiracy, extortion, witness intimidation and murder.

The arrests cap a three-year investigation into the gang and its cliques, which operated in the Lafayette Park area, west of downtown. Among the most serious allegations contained in a 16-count federal indictment unsealed today was the claim gang members conspired to murder veteran LAPD gang officer Frank Flores.

Those named in the indictment include Alex Sanchez, a nationally recognized anti-gang leader and executive director of Homies Unidos. Federal authorities accuse him of conspiring to commit murder in May 2006, during the time he was involved in anti-gang outreach efforts, although Flores was not the target. They did not provide details on the murder plot.

MS-13 allegedly killed seven people and conspired to kill another eight since 1985, authorities said.

Asst. Chief U.S. Atty. George Cardona said in a news conference that Sanchez was a shot-caller with the Normandie clique of MS-13 and conspired to commit the 2006 killing during the time his organization was taking public and private funds.

"He took public funds while furthering the gang," Cardona said.

LAPD Chief William J. Bratton said the Sanchez case reinforces the thinking behind the city’s efforts to consolidate and more strongly regulate anti-gang funding.

-- Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein