FRESNO, California — Over 20 MS-13 gang members and affiliates were charged following a monthlong murder and drug trafficking investigations centered on a rural California farm city.

An investigation helped to solve cases like murders and assaults in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Houston. Officials are expected to announce the charges on Friday.

McGregor Scott said in a phone interview on Thursday the investigation also helped solve cases like killings and assaults in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Houston. Authorities were expected to announce the charges on Friday.

According to police, the street gang took advantage of an understaffed police department in Mendota and terrorized the city, Scott said.

MS-13, or La Mara Salvatrucha, was formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s by refugees from El Salvador and is linked to many slayings in certain parts of the U.S. In California, the gang has clashed with rival Nortenos gang members. It also targets its own members for violating gang rules.

Two MS-13 gang members were charged with murder in U.S. court and another four with assault in the investigation centered on Mendota, Scott said.

Another 16 people affiliated with MS-13 are facing drug trafficking charges in U.S. court. Additional charges have been filed in state court.

A wiretap obtained as part of the probe linked MS-13 gang members to slayings and assaults in the other four cities, and additional people were charged there, Scott said.

McGregor said the crackdown on MS-13 in the Central Valley was not directed by officials in Washington, D.C. Scott said he made the investigation of MS-13 a top priority after receiving a briefing about the gang’s brutality upon returning to head the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento.

 

The investigation also included the California attorney general’s office and local law enforcement agencies, Scott said.