AVERY COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Avery County Sheriff Kevin Frye says he never thought gangs would be an issue in Avery County. It has never been a problem before, he said on Tuesday.
Frye however is concerned after a federal raid Saturday on an apartment building in Banner Elk turned up more than anyone imagined.
"We found not only one murder suspect but found another who is suspected in a homicide and another suspected of a serious assault who also is being looked at in a homicide," Frye said.
The murders in question happened in Baltimore, Maryland. The suspects apparently all came to Avery County to hide out.
"That has changed our perceptions here about gangs," Frye added.
Frye says investigators have asked the three why they chose Avery County and found that the suspects thought it was a "good place to lay low."
Frye is concerned that the three may have had help and others may be hiding out in the North Carolina mountains.
The three were all considered armed and dangerous. No weapons were found when the apartment was raided. None of the suspects had an ID and Frye said they had to use fingerprints to determine who was who.
In the process they were able to confirm they were members of MS-13 and are not documented as coming into the USA legally. They are all are from El Salvador.
Extradition proceedings are expected later in the week to transfer them to Maryland.