An international street gang with ties to New Jersey was delivered a big blow this week. On Thursday, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman announced charges for a dozen top-ranking members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman (Townsquare Media)

Among those charged were five New Jersey-based defendants, accused of playing a role in an alleged murder plot as an effort unfolded to unite all of the gang's U.S. "cliques" under a single, cohesive criminal syndicate.

"According to the charges, the defendants wanted to use this new formalized structure to open new drug distribution channels facilitated by cartel alliances and bloodshed," Fishman said.

Fishman noted a fair share of criminal activity, including authorization of the murder plot, was being conducted by MS-13 members who were behind bars in California, Virginia or El Salvador. They used contraband cellphones that were struggled into the jail facilities, according to Fishman.

Law enforcement officials were able to make arrests in the alleged murder plot before it could be carried out on a rival gang member in Hudson County.

All but one of the 12 defendants are currently in custody. The five New Jersey suspects make initial court appearances on Friday.