Federal and Southland law enforcement authorities Tuesday announced indictments of nearly two dozen people allegedly linked to the MS-13 gang, accusing them of taking part in the killings of seven people, including the machete slaying of a gang rival who was dismembered and had his heart removed.

The 12-count indictment, which was unsealed Monday, accuses alleged gang leaders of authorizing and coordinating the killings, while also naming gang members who allegedly carried out the murder and attempted murder of gang rivals.

Prosecutors said the victims were suspected by the MS-13 members of cooperating with law enforcement, although in one case, the defendants allegedly targeted a homeless man who was temporarily living in a park controlled by the gang.

Three people named in the indictment were arrested over the past few days in the Los Angeles area, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A fourth defendant was arrested over the weekend in Oakland. The other 18 defendants were arrested over the past year, including some who were taken into custody on state and federal charges.

The arrests were the culmination of an investigation by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs, which includes the FBI, Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“This investigation has been an unqualified success,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement. “The collaborative law enforcement effort solved several murder cases and dealt a severe blow to members of the gang who engaged in acts of brutality not seen in the region for over 20 years.”

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the indictment specifically targeted a San Fernando Valley-area clique of the gang. Authorities said one of the killings outlined in the indictment occurred on March 6, 2017, when a rival gang member was abducted and driven to a remote portion of the Angeles National Forest, where six people attacked him with a machete.

“The victim was dismembered, and his body parts were thrown into a canyon after one of the defendants allegedly cut the heart out of the victim’s body,” according to federal prosecutors.

The bulk of the crimes alleged in the indictment, including the seven killings, began in 2017 and continued into this year. The charges include murders carried out with machetes, knives and baseball bats, all committed in the Angeles National Forest. The indictment also outlines killings in the Malibu hills and North Hollywood.

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