US probe finds MS-13 gang in Australia

A major crackdown on MS-13 in the US has confirmed the violent drug gang's tentacles have infiltrated Australia.

New York's Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced 17 alleged members and associates of MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, have been indicted by a grand jury in the US on murder, conspiracy to commit murder and drug trafficking charges.

The gang is made up of machete-wielding "cliques", with members reporting back to leaders in the central American nation of El Salvador.

The investigation began in May, 2017, and US authorities were surprised to discover the gang's international reach.

"We uncovered a structured network of MS-13 operations in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, from within a Mississippi prison cell, and in countries around the globe including Mexico, Colombia, Korea, France, Australia, Peru, Egypt, Ecuador and Cuba," Ms Singas said.

Ms Singas said she believes MS-13 members were in the countries she listed.

"We were surprised to see some of those countries," she said.

"The investigation definitely revealed MS-13 has expanded its reach internationally."

Two alleged MS-13 members, David "Risky" Guevara and Victor Lopez, are accused of brutally murdering 15-year-old Angel Soler last year in Nassau County.

The teenager's body was allegedly mutilated with a weapon consistent with a machete "and cement was poured over his body".

The investigation also led to the arrest in El Salvador of a MS-13 kingpin charged with 17 horrific murders.

"It is no secret that the MS-13's motto is kill, rape, and control," Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said.

"When you look at the charges against these individuals today, it shows that they stay true to their ruthless ways, and will fund their gang activities by any means."

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