by: Natalie Pasquarella Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Dozens of federal charges for murders, drugs and guns are linked to 37 suspected members of a violent Charlotte gang.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose told anchor Natalie Pasquarella the suspected MS-13 gang members arrested Wednesday 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 was part of a big push to wipe out MS-13 in Charlotte several years ago.
"Five years ago, we really did disrupt and dismantle MS-13 in Charlotte, and it's taken them five years to try to rebuild," she said.
RAW: Channel 9's Natalie Pasquarella speaks with acting U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose
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.
"This new group is much younger. It's much more violent,” Rose said. “And what we have seen is that they were recruited at a young age in the schools."
Members are predominately Hispanic and prey on their communities, she said.
"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."
Rose said everyone who lives in those areas should be cautious.
"They would often rob people who were leaving clubs and they would rob people who were coming out of check cashing businesses,” she said. “So they targeted in many ways their own community, but also people who were just your average working people in Charlotte."
Channel 9 learned Wednesday that federal authorities unsealed a bill of indictment against those alleged gang members alleging a pattern of violence and conspiracy dating back to 2009.
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