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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Members of Columbus, Ohio Clique of MS-13 Arrested and Charged

Thirteen individuals alleged to be members and associates of MS-13 were arrested in Central Ohio and Indiana this morning.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman of the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers of the FBI, Detroit Field Office Director Rebecca Adducci of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations, Sheriff Dallas Baldwin of Franklin County and Chief Kim Jacobs of Columbus Police announced the indictment that was unsealed following the arrests today.

 

  Federal charges were filed against a total of 15 alleged MS-13 members.  Ten were charged by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to commit money laundering and use of a firearm during a crime of violence in an indictment returned on July 27.  Five others were charged in criminal complaints with reentering the U.S. after deportation.  Two of the 15 remain fugitives.  

 

“With more than 10,000 members across 40 states, MS-13 is one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the United States today," said Attorney General Sessions. "MS-13 members have killed children and pregnant women, extorted immigrant-owned businesses, and trafficked underage girls to sell them for sex. President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to reduce crime and take down transnational criminal organizations, and we will be relentless in our pursuit of these objectives. Today's charges are our next step toward making this country safer by taking MS-13 off of our streets for good.”

 

MS-13, formally La Mara Salvatrucha, is a multi-national criminal organization composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.  The organization’s leadership is based in El Salvador, where many of the gang’s high-ranking members are imprisoned. 

 

In 2012, the U.S. government designated MS-13 as a “transnational criminal organization.”  It is the first and only street gang to receive that designation. MS-13 has become one of the largest and most violent criminal organizations in the U.S., with more than 10,000 members and associates operating in at least 40 states, including Ohio. In Ohio and elsewhere in the U.S., MS-13 is organized into “cliques,” which are smaller groups of MS-13 members and associates acting under the larger mantle of the organization and operating in a specific region, city or part of a city.

 

The indictment alleges that 10 defendants – members and associates of the Columbus clique of MS-13 – conspired to commit extortion through the use of threatened or actual force, violence or fear to intimidate their victims into paying money to the defendants and their co-conspirators. Many of the proceeds were sent, usually by wire transfer and often through intermediaries, to MS-13 members and associates in El Salvador and elsewhere. The money was then used to promote and facilitate the criminal activities of MS-13 in El Salvador and the U.S.

 

As part of the alleged conspiracy, the defendants and their co-conspirators unlawfully obtained extortion proceeds to be used to, among other things, buy items that MS-13 uses to engage in criminal activity, such as cellular phones, narcotics and weapons; provide financial support and information to MS-13 members, including those incarcerated in El Salvador and the U.S., as well as those who have been deported; and aid families of deceased MS-13 members. 

 

The 10 defendants charged in the indictment are: 

 

Name

Also Known As

Age

City

Jose Martin Neftali Aguilar-Rivera

Momia, Pelon

32

Columbus, Ohio/ Indianapolis, Ind.

Pedro Alfonso Osorio-Flores

Smokey

38

Columbus, Ohio

Juan Jose Jiminez-Montufar

Chele Trece

33

Columbus, Ohio

Isaias Alvarado

Cabo

44

Columbus, Ohio

Cruz Alberto-Arbarngas

Cruzito

30

Columbus, Ohio

*Jose Manuel Romero-Parada

Russo

22

Fugitive – Indianapolis, Ind.

Jose Salinas-Enriquez

Martillo

32

Dayton, Ohio

Jorge Cazares

Veneno

37

Columbus, Ohio

Jose Ramiro Aparicio-Olivares

Flaco

42

Columbus, Ohio

*Nelson Alexander Flores

Mula

46

Fugitive – whereabouts unknown

Conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to commit money laundering are each crimes punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence carries a sentence of at least seven years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed in the case.

 

The five defendants charged with immigration offenses in criminal complaints are:

 

Name

Also Known As

Age

City

Antonio Galdamez-Figueroa

Pinochio

29

Columbus, Ohio

Juan Pablo Flores-Castro

Duende

29

Columbus, Ohio

Jorge Alberto Landaverde

Grenas

33

Columbus, Ohio

Juan Jose Alvarenga-Alberto

Sailen

27

Columbus, Ohio

Marvin Otero-Serrano

Vaca

31

Columbus, Ohio

 

Illegally re-entering the U.S. after having been previously deported is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison.

 

Attorney General Sessions and U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI, ICE, Columbus, Police and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and the assistance of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian J. Martinez and Jessica H. Kim, who are prosecuting the case.

 

An indictment or criminal complaint merely contains allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

 

If you are a victim of the alleged crimes, or have additional information about MS-13, please call the FBI hotline at 614-849-1765. Callers can remain anonymous.

Press Release Number: 
17-907
Updated August 15, 2017