Fresno County DA files charges against MS-13 gang members

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno County District Attorney filed charges Tuesday against several gang members following a massive MS-13 takedown in Mendota last week. Investigators arrested a total of 25 gang members and 13 of them will be prosecuted by the state.

For the first time in a long time, Mendota Police Chief Gregg Andreotti can confidently say that his town is a safer place. In the last four years, Mendota has been the site of 14 brutal murders.

"Not knowing what was going to happen next kept a lot of people in fear," said Chief Andreotti.

Prosecutors believe MS 13 gang members were responsible for the killings. Criminal complaints filed Tuesday accuse them of more treachery in Los Angeles. Investigators say the gang routinely drove from Mendota to MacArthur Park to eliminate rivals.

"Quite honestly it's why people are so fearful of them. They are ruthless, and they are vicious, and I think they have pride in that," said Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp.

The suspects range from 16 to 27-years-old. In one case, six of them are accused of inviting their victim to a beach party with drugs and girls, only to kill him. In a separate incident, three attacked a rival gang member with a Taser and knives.

"That type of violence is not just to obviously kill the victim but to deliver a message to others in the organization to follow the rules," said Chief Andreotti.

District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp says it's time for her office to deliver a message too.

She says this county refuses to become the home of another MS-13 cell.

"We never know when we do take out the leadership of a gang all the people that we save. We just have to know deep in our hearts that we have saved people," said Smittcamp.

All 13 suspects will be arraigned in Fresno Superior Court on Wednesday.
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