Street gang MS-13 recruiting teens from local middle, high schools

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — One of the most violent, notorious street gangs in the United States is recruiting kids as young as 13 from local middle and high schools, officials said.

Channel 2's Chris Jose was in Cobb County, where a judge recently sentenced six known MS-13 gang members. Officials said they are hunting another fugitive.

MS-13 is known for killing women and children with guns, knives and machetes. Channel 2 Action News usually doesn't name gangs because we don't want to give members recognition for their crimes. But a top prosecutor is urging people to be aware of MS-13.

In his final weeks as acting Cobb County District Attorney before he starts at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, John Melvin doubled down on MS-13 gang members.

"We're going to make Cobb County and the state of Georgia a very hostile environment for y'all," Melvin said recently.

He said the recent prison sentences of two local leaders sends a message.

"Make no mistake, we have documented testimony that we have gang members in every high school and middle school in Cobb County," Melvin said. "The gang is recruiting 13-, 14-year-olds to do their dirty work, as well," Melvin said.


Melvin considers the presence of the gang in local schools as a crisis.

A recent indictment shows just some of the gangsters who police captured, but they still haven't tracked down 19-year-old Alex Bautista. He's considered a dangerous fugitive, one who is known for violence and brutality.

Investigators said Bautista, along with Julio Castro and Walter Flores, used a Mac-10 semi-automatic pistol to shoot into a crowd of people in 2017. Three people were hurt, and there was no evidence that any of the victims were members of a rival gang.

The Marietta event hall, Franklin Gateway, has since been torn down.

Investigators said the shooters were "hardcore MS-13 gang members." Bautista may have left the metro Atlanta area, officials said.