Prosecutor: 12 'top-ranking' MS-13 members charged

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Updated: 7/17 1:03 pm

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Federal authorities in New Jersey have filed charges against a dozen alleged top-ranking members of the international street gang MS-13.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman says among those charged Thursday with racketeering, drug trafficking and related crimes is a California man who claims to control the gang's United States operations.

Fishman says 34-year-old Jose Juan Rodriguez-Juarez allegedly served as the leader of MS-13's "national program" and sought to bring all of the gang's local sets in the U.S. under a single leadership structure. It's not immediately known if he has an attorney.

Prosecutors say those charged sought to open new drug distribution channels in the U.S. and internationally. They allegedly engaged in criminal activity in New Jersey and in jails in California, Virginia, and El Salvador, where the gang has roots.

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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