Federal authorities have charged four MS-13 gang members with murder following a brutal January murder in Las Vegas. Local law enforcement believes that the gang is responsible for 10 homicides in Clark County, Nev., since March 2017.
The gang members, aged 19 to 24, are all from El Salvador. U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson described the kidnapping and slaying of 24-year-old Arquimides Sandoval-Martinez, disclosing that the suspects abducted the victim outside of Las Vegas. They then drove him into the desert, hacked him with machetes, and then shot him repeatedly.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said that the investigation has ties to Los Angeles and Fresno, Calif. In recent years, MS-13 has flourished on both the east and west coasts. Salvadoran immigrants, many of them former paramilitaries, founded the gang in California the 1980s, and it slowly crept across the country and established new cliques in some Salvadoran communities. Long Island, Maryland, and Northern Virginia have all seen a deadly increase of MS-13 violence in recent years.
In February, my colleague Jessica Vaughan released a report detailing the resurgence of MS-13 since 2012. In that report, she remarked that "all criminal gangs are a threat to public safety, but MS-13 is a unique problem because of the unusually brutal crimes its members have committed, its success in using intimidation to victimize and control people in its territory, and its focus on recruiting young members, often in schools."
These new developments in Las Vegas show that the California MS-13 cliques are expanding outside of the Golden State. Sheriff Lombardo estimates that there are fewer than 50 MS-13 members in the entire southern portion of Nevada. That only four of these members are believed to have committed 10 homicides in one year is shocking. It exhibits the brutality and pain that even a single MS-13 clique can bring to a community.