OTTAWA (AFP) — Toronto police dismantled the Canadian operations of a violent gang with Central American roots by arresting 17 local members, authorities said Thursday.
"We are confident, with the conclusion of this investigation, that we have identified individuals who were responsible for establishing an MS-13 clique here in Toronto," police chief William Blair told a press conference.
"We believe with their arrest we have effectively disrupted the activities of this gang," he said.
Police rounded up 17 gang members in and around Toronto overnight, laid 63 charges, including conspiracy to murder a justice official said to be a policeman or corrections officer, and seized cash, cocaine and weapons.
"One of the characteristics of MS-13 is the intimidation and acts of violence against participants in the criminal justice system," Blair said.
Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 was started 20 years ago in Los Angeles by a group of young Salvadoran immigrants. When its members were deported for criminal activities, the gang spread to Central America, and beyond.
It is now believed to be one of the largest and most violent gangs in the United States and Central America.
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