2 suspected MS-13 members face judge

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A judge will decide Tuesday if an alleged MS-13 gang member will stay behind bars.

Oscar Trejo is in the Mecklenburg County Jail on federal charges. He's one of 37 alleged gang members indicted in May.

On Monday, Fec Rodriguez-Vareal pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy as part of a plea deal.

Authorities say the members were involved in the murders of four men. The suspected members were rounded up last month. The charges against them range from murder to drug deals to robberies and guns.

The indictment claims the gang held meetings in Charlotte clubs, businesses and parks.

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Channel 9 was with investigators as they rounded up more than 30 suspected members in May.

Twenty-two of those defendants were charged variously with additional offenses including murder, attempted murder, assault, and firearms violations.

Channel 9 learned that feds unsealed a bill of indictment against those alleged gang members which allege a pattern of violence and conspiracy dating back to 2009. 

“Transnational criminal gangs like MS-13 inflict untold damage in our communities by engaging in violence and trafficking in drugs, weapons and even human beings,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Atlanta. “This lengthy investigation has uncovered alleged crimes ranging from petty drug deals to capital murder. There is no doubt that North Carolina communities will be safer as a result of these arrests.”

Channel 9 anchor Natalie Pasquarella sat down with acting U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose, who said the suspected MS-13 gang members arrested are part of a younger, more violent group than they've dealt with in the past.

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"Is there a gang problem in Charlotte? Absolutely, there is a gang problem in Charlotte," said Rose, who has been acting U.S. attorney since March.

She said MS-13 has slowly built back up their operations in the east and southwest parts of Charlotte recruiting members as young as middle school.

"They recruit from new immigrants,” Rose said. “Why? Because those folks are looking for someone they have something in common with, someone who speaks the language, someone who understands the culture from where they came." 
 
The U.S. Attorney's Office also said the gang held meetings inside Charlotte clubs, businesses and even parks.

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