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MS-13 'Board of Directors' Charged with Terrorism

FILE - Members of the MS-13 gang wait to board a bus to be transferred from the Chalatenango penitentiary, in Chalatenango, El Salvador, Dec. 27, 2019.

Federal authorities indicted the "board of directors" of the MS-13 gang on terrorism charges Thursday.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York, 14 gang leaders are charged with "conspiracy to provide and conceal material support to terrorists, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to finance terrorism and narcoterrorism conspiracy," the Justice Department said in a news release.

One of those charged is Borromeo Enrique Henriquez, also known as Diablito de Hollywood. Prosecutors called him one of the gang's most important members. All the suspects make up the Ranfla Nacional, which is MS-13's ruling body.

Eleven of the charged are in jail in El Salvador, but three remain at large. The Justice Department said it was exploring ways to extradite the imprisoned to the United States.

"MS-13 is responsible for a wave of death and violence that has terrorized communities, leaving neighborhoods on Long Island and throughout the Eastern District of New York awash in bloodshed," Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme said in a statement. "Even when incarcerated, the Ranfla Nacional continued to direct MS-13's global operations, recruit new members, including children, into MS-13, and orchestrate murder and mayhem around the world."

He added that Thursday's indictments seek to demolish MS-13 by targeting its leadership.

MS-13, also known by its Spanish name Mara Salvatrucha, was started by refugees from El Salvador in Los Angeles in the 1980s, but has since spread across the U.S. While the group's center of gravity remains in Central America, it has an estimated 10,000 members in the U.S., where they operate in units known as "programs" and "cliques."

In July, more than two dozen alleged leaders and members of the gang were arrested during sweeps in Virginia, New York and Las Vegas.