BOSTON (TheBlaze/AP) - Federal authorities say they have charged 56 members of the MS-13 or "Mara Salvatrucha" gang in and around Boston.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz held a news conference Friday morning to discuss the charges and arrests. Law enforcement officials say they had taken 37 MS-13 affiliates into custody as of late Friday morning.
The suspects face racketeering, drug trafficking and gun charges.
"It's a good day for the city," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told New England Cable News.
"Today's operation had considerable impact," FBI Special Agent in Charge Harold Shaw added. "Approximately one-third of MS-13's membership here in Massachusetts was or will be taken off the streets."
The gang is notoriously violent and typically uses machetes to kill victims. According to court documents, in 2012, MS-13 became the first and remains the only street gang to be designated by the U.S. government as a "transnational criminal organization." The international gang has more than 6,000 members in the U.S. and more than 30,000 members worldwide, mainly in El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.
According to Shaw, aspiring gang members "must kill and be beaten" before they are allowed to join.
"This is a very violent gang," Massachusetts State Police Lt. Col. Frank Hughes told NECN. "In my 30 years of law enforcement, I've never seen a more violent gang out there. These are very very violent individuals. The violence is unspeakable."