Authorities on Thursday charged a man from El Salvador who's lived in Everett for allegedly organizing East Coast activities for a notorious Salvadoran gang.
Edwin Manica Flores, 35, was indicted on RICO conspiracy charges for allegedly coordinating racketeering activities for the East Coast branch of the gang MS-13, the U.S. attorney's office in Massachusetts announced.
Manica Flores is alleged to have organized gang activity between so-called MS-13 "cliques" in Boston; Houston; Columbus, Ohio and Virginia.
According to the indictment, the government secretly recorded a phone call in December 2015 in which Manica Flores introduced himself as "Sugar from the Everett Locos," referring to the Everett-based clique. On the call, he encouraged increased recruitment of new members and more money to be sent back to gang leaders in El Salvador.
A transcript of the call details Manica Flores' warnings to avoid wearing certain brands and colors that could be easily associated with MS-13 membership:
Dressed like that, the enemy can see you, the police can arrest you, and boom, [you are deported] to El Salvador. We, as Everett Locos founded in Boston, we're already cutting out all that bulls--- from the homeboys in my clique. ... Because to live a great life there, one must be humble, you know, to avoid being detected.
According to the indictment, MS-13 leadership in El Salvador used money generated in the U.S. to buy weapons, shoes, food and legal services for members behind bars. The money also was used to purchase cellphones enabling leadership in El Salvador to communicate with MS-13 leaders in the U.S., often, according to prosecutors, giving local leaders the "green light" to kill rival gang members.
It was not immediately clear if Manica Flores has an attorney.
The U.S. attorney's office in Massachusetts said in an email that Manica Flores is in El Salvador and the office "anticipates seeking extradition."
The charges against Manica Flores come a week after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed law enforcement officials in Boston, where he painted a dark picture of the gang's widespread activity and violent methods.
"We will not allow the likes of MS-13 or any other gang to prey upon our communities, to decapitate individuals with machetes, baseball bats and chains — or to turn places like Boston, Washington, D.C., and Long Island, New York, into war zones," he said.
Sessions commended a multi-agency sweep last year of MS-13 members in and around Boston that led to the arrest of more than 60 alleged gang members.
This report comes from the New England News Collaborative: Eight public media companies coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.