Almost two dozen members of the international Hispanic gang Mara Salvatrucha-13, or MS-13, have been sentenced – some to life in prison – for committing violent crimes in the Atlanta area between 2005 and 2010, authorities announced.
Jose Delgado, aka Fantasma, 28, was sentenced on Friday to serve 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to racketeering charges involving murder, the Justice Department said.
Omar Cubillos, aka Pancho, 30, pleaded guilty on June 15 to racketeering conspiracy charges involving murder and a firearms offense and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Kenedis Bonilla, aka Mago, 33, was sentenced to 15 years after pleading guilty on June 13 to organized crime charges involving murder and firearms offenses.
Six other members of the gang were also sentenced earlier this year and the remaining 13 were convicted and sentenced prior to that.
All were convicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act and Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering statutes for their part in organized murders, armed robberies and kidnappings between 2005 and 2010, officials said.
MS-13 is composed primarily of immigrants or relatives originally from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Though it originated in Los Angeles, the gang operates in Hispanic neighborhoods across the United States and throughout much of the Western Hemisphere.
Its numbers have been estimated at some 70,000 members, according to Insight Crime, a foundation that tracks organized crime in Latin American and Caribbean countries.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2004 formed a task force to combat the growing gang. It also created an initiative to collect fingerprints from Central America for integration into the FBI’s identification system.