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MS-13 gang members cut out rival’s heart

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Members and associates of the notorious MS-13 gang in California have been charged with seven murders, including one in which a rival gang member had his heart cut out.

In all, 22 people are suspected of almost 200 crimes across several states, according to a federal indictment by the US attorney's office in Los Angeles.

Details of one killing allege a rival gang member was targeted after it was thought he had defaced MS-13 graffiti.

The indictment alleges that on 6 March 2017 he was abducted, choked and driven to a remote area of the Angeles National Forest where six people dismembered him with a machete, cut out his heart and threw the body parts into a canyon.

The federal documents state that six of the murders listed were carried out by people hoping to climb up through the ranks of MS-13.

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Sixteen of the 22 people indicted are charged in connection with those six killings, which officials called so "heinous, cruel or depraved" that the defendants are eligible for the death penalty.

Of the 22 in custody, 18 had been apprehended over the last year on a range of federal and state charges, three were arrested in recent days in the Los Angeles area by a task force that included FBI agents, and the other was arrested over the weekend in Oklahoma.

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Nineteen of them had entered the United States illegally in the past three or four years.

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