DALLAS (AP) — Federal authorities have indicted eight MS-13 gang members in the U.S. illegally who used machetes and other weapons to carry out a string of violent attacks against rival gang members in North Texas last year.
U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox said Friday that the street gang is one of the largest in the U.S. and described their tactics as cold, calculating and ruthless. A major rule of the gang is that members must attack and kill rivals, she said.
“Their trademark is violence,” Cox said at a Friday news conference in Dallas. “They are required to commit acts of violence in order to be involved with the gang and to participate as gang members.”
Seven people were in custody Friday morning. Cox reported Friday morning that an eighth person, who was not identified, is at large. The 18-count indictment includes attempted murder in aid of racketeering and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering.
Katherine Greer, a deputy special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, said the gang members are in the U.S. illegally, mostly from El Salvador.
President Donald Trump has singled out the gang as a threat to the United States, prompting criticism when he called its members “animals.”
MS-13 gang members committed at least six attacks in Dallas and nearby Irving last year, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. It said a sledgehammer was used in one attack, while a metal bat was involved in another. Rival gang members were victims of the attacks by MS-13 gang members, according to the statement.
The gang was founded in the U.S. in the 1980s by Salvadoran immigrants and has sunk roots in the country. Some of its members are U.S. citizens and not subject to deportation.