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New jersey leaders and members of violent, international street gang indicted for racketeering conspiracy



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 25, 2013


 

Plainfield-based Gang Allegedly Supported the Enterprise with Murder, Extortion, Plots to Kill Witnesses and a Law Enforcement Officer, and Sexual Assault

NEWARK, N.J. – Three former leaders of a New Jersey branch of the violent international street gang “La Mara Salvatrucha” – including its founding member – are charged with racketeering and murder in an indictment that also charges 11 other alleged members of the gang with related crimes, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced today.

Santos Reyes-Villatoro, a/k/a “Mousey,” allegedly founded the “Plainfield Locos Salvatruchas” (PLS) – a subset, or “clique” – of La Mara Salvatrucha in the 1990s and served as its leader until his arrest in 2009 for attempted murder. Also known as MS-13, La Mara Salvatrucha is composed largely of Salvadorans and Salvadoran immigrants. Two other former leaders of the local PLS clique, Mario Oliva, a/k/a “Zorro,” and Roberto Contreras, a/k/a “Demonio,” are also charged in a 26-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury.

In all, the indictment charges 14 alleged members of the gang with racketeering conspiracy and a host of other violent crimes.

“The indictment describes an extraordinarily dangerous criminal enterprise whose entire reason for being revolves around imposing its leaders’ will through violence and intimidation,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “They have inflicted on the people of Plainfield and surrounding areas a reign of terror, backed up by physical assaults and murders. No community should have to endure such lawlessness.”

“The brazenness of the conduct charged in today’s indictment is deeply troubling,” Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park said. “The defendants allegedly showed no reluctance to react to perceived or real slights with immediate and reckless violence – and when they were caught, they plotted to retaliate against those who they believed to be responsible. Combatting gang-related crimes in Plainfield and all of our communities is one of the top priorities of this office, and it is reflected in today’s charges against the leaders of a particularly violent criminal enterprise.”

The federal indictment, which charges members of PLS with a racketeering conspiracy, four murders, multiple conspiracies to commit murder, extortion, robbery and a variety of other crimes, is the culmination of a three-year investigation that started in the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and expanded to include other local, state and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. Among those named in the indictment are individuals who were arrested and charged with state crimes in the summer of 2011. Today’s indictment incorporates many of the acts charged at the state level and adds additional criminal activity uncovered during the subsequent investigation.

All but one of the defendants are currently in custody; Walter Yovany-Gomez remains at large. Those in custody are scheduled to make their initial appearances later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court.

According to the indictment:

The PLS clique was founded in the mid-1990s by Reyes-Villatoro and operated in New Jersey in Union, Somerset and Middlesex counties. Reyes-Villatoro served as “first word,” or leader, of the group until he was arrested in 2009 and charged with attempted murder. The first word is responsible for “greenlighting,” or authorizing, all murders committed by members of the clique.

Reyes-Villatoro relinquished the position to his “second word,” or deputy, Oliva, who held the position until he allegedly murdered a member of MS-13 in February 2010 and fled New Jersey. Contreras then took over. He is implicated in the sexual assault with Oliva of two underage girls.

            The indictment charges numerous violent acts committed by PLS members as part of the racketeering conspiracy, some of which targeted members of rival gangs, such as the Latin Kings and the 18th Street gang, and some of which targeted MS-13 members perceived as being disloyal.

Among the charges are four gang-related murders: 

  • Feb. 8, 2009, Julian Moz-Aguilar, a/k/a “Humilde,” allegedly murdered a Latin King (described in the indictment as Victim 5) at Reyes-Villatoro’s instruction;
  • Feb. 27, 2010, Oliva and another MS-13 member allegedly murdered a member of MS-13 (Victim 10) who had been previously “greenlighted” by Oliva;
  • Nov. 11, 2010, Hugo Palencia, a/k/a “Taliban,” allegedly instructed another MS-13 member to fire a gun at a rival gang member, which resulted in the death of another individual (Victim 11) near a high school in Plainfield, N.J.; and
  • May 8, 2011, Cruz Flores, a/k/a “Bruja,” and Walter Yovany-Gomez, a/k/a “Cholo,” allegedly murdered an individual (Victim 15) because they believed the person was associating with the rival 18th Street gang.

“Today, HSI and our law enforcement partners have struck a serious blow to the core of this gang organization,” Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of ICE, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) Newark, said. “MS-13 gang members and their associates are serious career criminals who have a callous disregard for human life. HSI is determined to remove the MS-13 menace from New Jersey’s communities.”

“Today’s indictment is the result of a long-term, multi-agency investigation,” Aaron T. Ford, FBI special agent in charge in Newark, said. “Dedicated personnel from agencies at all levels of government worked in unison to combat this dangerous and violent criminal enterprise.   This cooperation is, and will continue to be, a critical factor for successfully defending threats that endanger the citizens of New Jersey.”

In 2011, law enforcement arrested a number of PLS members in Plainfield. While detained at the Union County Jail, PLS members plotted to retaliate against those they believed were responsible for their arrest, including witnesses, law enforcement and fellow gang members they suspected were cooperating with the government. PLS members allegedly sought revenge against a Plainfield detective involved in the case by planning to firebomb the residence of the detective’s mother. 

Six defendants – Reyes-Villatoro, Oliva, Julian Moz-Aguilar, Hugo Palencia, Cruz Flores, and Walter Yovany-Gomez – are charged with murder in aid of racketeering, which is punishable by a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The charge is a death penalty-eligible offense subject to a decision by the U.S. Attorney General. A complete chart outlining the counts per defendant and maximum potential penalties is attached, as is a chart outlining the overt acts charged in the indictment.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of ICE-HSI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge McLees; and the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ford. Fishman specifically thanked the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Park, for long, close collaboration on the case. He also thanked the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Geoffrey D. Soriano; and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey, for their roles. He also acknowledged the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of Virginia and the District of Maryland for their assistance in the ongoing investigation.

 The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James M. Donnelly and Andrew J. Bruck of the U.S Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

13-388                                                       

Maximum Penalties
U.S. v. Reyes-Villatoro, et al.

Count

Charge

Defendants

Maximum Penalty

  1.  

Racketeering Conspiracy

Reyes-Villatoro, Santos, 40
Oliva, Mario, 26
Contreras, Roberto, 25
Moz-Aguilar, Julian, 26
Palencia, Hugo, 21
Garcia, Jose, 21
Portillo-Fuentes, Ruben, 21
Ramirez, Esau, 22
Mejia, Kelvin, 21
Mejia, Franklin, 22
Orellana-Carranza, Julio, 25

Life in prison
(Reyes-Villatoro, Oliva, Moz-Aguilar, Palencia, Flores, and Yovany-Gomez)

20 years
(all other defendants)

2. 

Murder in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 5)

Reyes-Villatoro
Moz-Aguilar

Death eligible; mandatory life sentence

3. 

Use of Firearm in Violent Federal Crime (Victim 5)

Reyes-Villatoro
Moz-Aguilar

Life in prison; 10-year mandatory minimum

4. 

Murder Resulting from Federal Firearm Crime (Victim 5)

Reyes-Villatoro
Moz-Aguilar

Death eligible

5. 

Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 6, Victim 7)

Reyes-Villatoro
K. Mejia

20 years

6. 

Use of Firearm in Violent Federal Crime (Victim 6, Victim 7)

Reyes-Villatoro
K. Mejia

20 years; 10-year mandatory minimum

7. 

Threat to Commit Sexual Assault (Victim 8, Victim 9)

Oliva
Contreras

5 years

8. 

Murder in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 10)

Oliva

Death eligible; mandatory life sentence

9. 

Use of Firearm in Violent Federal Crime (Victim 10)

Oliva

Life in prison; 10-year mandatory minimum

10.

Murder Resulting from Federal Firearm Crime (Victim 10)

Oliva

Death eligible

11.

Accessory After the Fact to Murder in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 10)

Contreras

15 years

12. 

Murder in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 11)

Palencia

Death eligible; mandatory life sentence

13. 

Use of Firearm in Violent Federal Crime (Victim 11)

Palencia

Life in prison; 10-year mandatory minimum

14.

Murder Resulting from Federal Firearm Crime (Victim 11)

Palencia

Death eligible

15. 

Murder-for-Hire Conspiracy

Garcia
Palencia

10 years

16. 

Interstate Travel with Intent to Commit Murder-for-Hire 

Garcia

10 years

17. 

Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 14)

Garcia

20 years

18. 

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 15)

Flores, Cruz, 27
Yovany-Gomez, Walter, 29
K. Mejia

10 years

19. 

Murder in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 15)

Flores
Yovany-Gomez

Death eligible; mandatory life sentence

20.

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

Orellana-Carranza
Garcia
K. Mejia

10 years

21.

Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 18)

Portillo-Fuentes

20 years

22. 

Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 19, Victim 20)

K. Mejia
F. Mejia

20 years

23. 

Use of Firearm in Violent Federal Crime (Victim 19, Victim 20)

K. Mejia
F. Mejia

Life in prison; 10-year mandatory minimum

24. 

Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine

K. Mejia
F. Mejia

20 years

25.

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 22)

K. Mejia
F. Mejia

10 years

26.

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering (Victim 16, Victim 22, Victim 23)

Romero-Aguirre, Jose, 26
Orellana-Carranza
Garcia
Portillo-Fuentes
Ramirez
K. Mejia
F. Mejia

10 years

The maximum fine upon conviction of Count 24 is $1 million. For each of the other counts, the maximum fine upon conviction is $250,000.

Overview of Overt Acts
U.S. v. Reyes-Villatoro, et al.

Overt Acts

Counts
(if also charged separately from Count 1)

Date

Act

a-b

 

Before November 2009

Reyes-Villatoro becomes First Word; Oliva becomes Second Word

c

 

From December 2008 through November 2009

Reyes-Villatoro orders collection of “rent” from inactive gang members

d

 

Dec. 5, 2008

Palencia, Kelvin Mejia, and other MS-13 members shoot at Latin Kings

e-f

 

Jan. 25, 2009

Reyes-Villatoro orders unidentified MS-13 member to shoot at two members of Latin Kings

g-i

2-4

Feb. 8, 2009

Reyes-Villatoro orders Moz-Aguilar to murder Victim #5 (Christian Tigsi)

j-l

5-6

Oct. 31, 2009

Reyes-Villatoro drives Kelvin Mejia to house in North Plainfield, where Mejia fires at rival gang members

m-n

 

After Oct. 31, 2009, but before Feb. 27, 2010

Oliva becomes First Word; Contreras becomes Second Word

o

 

After Oct. 31, 2009, but before Feb. 27, 2010

Oliva orders collection of “rent” from inactive gang members

p-q

7

After Oct. 31, 2009, but before Feb. 27, 2010

Oliva and Contreras sexually assault two teenage girls to establish their dominance in gang

r-v

8-11

Feb. 27, 2010 and after

Oliva and one of his soldiers shoots and kills Victim #10 (Jessica Montoya). Contreras helps both perpetrators relocate to Maryland afterwards

w

 

After Feb. 27, 2010

Contreras becomes First Word

x

 

After Feb. 27, 2010

Contreras orders “greenlighting” of MS-13 member believed to be cooperating in investigation of Jessica Montoya’s murder.  (Individual is not killed.)

y

 

After Feb. 27, 2010

Contreras orders collection of “rent” from inactive gang members

z

 

Oct. 31, 2010

Unidentified MS-13 members evade law enforcement by hiding in a Plainfield apartment (which is later the scene of the murder in Overt Act mm)

aa-cc

12-14

Nov. 10-11, 2010

Palencia orders unidentified MS-13 member to shoot teenager as he walks home from school with a group of other kids. MS-13 member shoots at group, kills another kid in the crowd, Victim #11 (Spencer Cadogan)

dd-ee
gg

15-16

December 2010 through
Jan. 10, 2011

Garcia recruits MS-13 members in the Washington, D.C., area to travel to New Jersey to participate in a murder-for-hire.

ff

 

Jan. 9, 2011

Unidentified MS-13 members murder Victim #12 (Andres Chach) in front of Pueblo Viejo (Note: this murder is not charged substantively)

hh

 

After Jan. 10, 2011, but before Jan. 31, 2011

Contreras passes information to Palencia about the murder of Victim #12

ii

 

May 7, 2011

Portillo shoots Victim #13 in Plainfield, using the same gun that was used four months earlier to kill Victim #12

jj-kk

17

May 8, 2011

Garcia assaults Victim #14

ll

 

May 2011

MS-13 assigns killing “missions” to certain members of the gang

mm-nn

18-19

May 8, 2011 and after

Flores and Yovany-Gomez murder Victim #15 (Julio Matute-Amaya); Mejia helps Yovany-Gomez flee New Jersey

oo-pp

 

May 11, 2011

Portillo, Moz-Aguilar, and Ramirez conspire to threaten and collect “rent” from inactive member of MS-13

qq

 

June 4, 2011

Franklin Mejia attacks Victim #17, who is supposedly associating with 18th Street gang

rr-tt

20

June 11, 2011

Orellana-Carranza seeks to complete his “mission”; conspires with Garcia and Kelvin Mejia

uu

21

June 15, 2011

Portillo attacks Victim #18 with machete

vv

22-23

June 15, 2011

Kelvin Mejia and Franklin Mejia rob two victims in Green Brook Park in Plainfield

ww

 

June 24, 2011

Orellana-Carranza, Ramirez, and Franklin Mejia plot to kill owner of underground liquor store

xx

 

June 28, 2011

Kelvin Mejia and Franklin Mejia threaten to kill individual they believe is cooperating with law enforcement

yy-zz

24

June 30, 2011 through July 2, 2011

Kelvin Mejia and Franklin Mejia arrange cocaine sales

aaa-ddd

25

July 2, 2011

Kelvin Mejia and Franklin Mejia plot to kill Victim #22 after he tries to protect Victim #17 (see Overt Act qq)

eee

 

July 4, 2011

Garcia and Kelvin Mejia plot to rob owner of underground liquor store to raise bail money

fff

 

July 2011

Franklin Mejia and Ramirez plot to kill Plainfield detective

ggg

26

July – August 2011

Kelvin Mejia, Franklin Mejia, Garcia, Ramirez and Orellana-Carranza plot to kill witnesses from inside Union County Jail

hhh-jjj

26

Aug. 1-2, 2011

Ramirez calls Romero-Aguirre from inside Union County Jail to plan witness retaliation plots

Reyes-Villatoro, Santos et al. Indictment

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