Reports indicate that dozens of ms-13 gang members were arrested in surprise Police raids all over the Los Angeles area early Wednesday morning. According to a report by CNN, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives chose to execute the raids before dawn in an effort to catch the gang affiliates off-guard.

High-ranking members of the gang targeted

Officials reportedly targeted high-ranking members of the organization known for terrorizing both domestic and international streets, and, by the sheer number of those captured (sources claim at least 44 were apprehended), it seems they were successful.

Eric Harden, the ATF operative in charge of the sting operation, indicated that today's events "disrupted the gang's command and control."

Of the 44 arrested today, CNN reports that over half are illegal, undocumented immigrants. LA Police Chief Charlie Beck indicated that the gang often targets undocumented immigrants to do most of its bidding.

Based in Los Angeles, MS-13 is considered one of the largest criminal enterprises in the U.S., and the gang is widely known around the world for extortion, kidnapping, illegal drug trading and smuggling, human trafficking, prostitution, and murder.

In fact, sources indicate that many of the individuals captured in today's early morning raid may have actually been victims of trafficking at some point or another, albeit through MS-13 itself, or one of the gang's many sub-entities.

Officers used the element of surprise to capture suspected gang members

Reports indicate that the raids occurred sometime around 4am this morning, with officers decked out in Kevlar and body armor, wielding rifles.

One particular raid that took place behind a non-descript store just outside of downtown LA was executed without a hitch, and the officers were able to handcuff at least six people without incident. Other raids, executed around the same time, occurred similarly.

Experts indicate that while a storefront may seem like a peculiar place to find members of such a powerful gang, the anonymity of the location allows particular units to conduct illegal activity while arousing very little suspicion -- which is perfect for the large amount of product gang members may be moving at any given time.

Agents say the initial investigation into the dealings of the gang members captured today spans as far back as the summer of 2014. Intel from those covert missions revealed a significant amount of information regarding how the gang operates, and law enforcement was able to use that data to conduct the strikes successfully today.

Though today's raid was a major breakthrough for U.S. security officials, agents have a long way to go in order to contain a gang that operates in 40 of the nation's 50 states. Though there's still considerable progress to be made, operatives are confident that they will eventually put one of America's most ruthless criminal organizations out of commission for good.

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