LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Hundreds of federal and local law enforcement fanned out across Los Angeles, serving arrest and search warrants as part of a three-year investigation into the violent and brutal street gang MS-13.

About 20 suspects were arrested in connection with a federal RICO indictment after agents and officers served warrants early Wednesday at 41 locations, including a storefront along a strip of dilapidated buildings near downtown. The targets included some members of the gang’s leadership.

At the center of the takedown was a 41-count racketeering indictment (PDF) that charges 34 members and associates of MS-13.

Prosecutors say the 127-page indictment describes how MS-13 “uses violence and intimidation in an effort to maintain its power and control narcotics trafficking.”

Members of MS-13 also allegedly engaged in extortion of street-level drug dealers and innocent business owners who were threatened with death if they did not make payments to the gang. The gang also operates illegal after-hours clubs where it generates profits from gambling and illegal narcotics and alcohol sales, according to prosecutors.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was on hand for a morning news conference to announce the arrests, along with Acting United States Attorney Sandra Brown, and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike.


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