Four complaints were unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn variously charging 10 members and associates of the Indios Locos Salvatruchas clique of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, a transnational criminal organization, with murder in-aid-of racketeering, attempted murder, murder conspiracy, related firearms offenses and marijuana distribution conspiracy. One defendant was arrested on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, in Maryland. Five defendants were arrested today in New York and California. On May 15, 2020, four defendants will be arrested and transferred to federal custody from detention facilities where they are currently held.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges and arrests.
“The murders and crimes of violence allegedly committed by these defendants are trademark MS-13 offenses – cold-blooded, senseless and brutally violent – and pose a grave danger to the residents of our communities,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Thanks to the hard work of federal and local law enforcement officers, the defendants will now face prosecution for the charged crimes. No matter what obstacles may arise, this Office will not rest until our mission to eradicate the MS-13 threat is accomplished.” Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the NYPD's Queens North Homicide Squad and 109th Precinct Detective Squad and the New York City Department of Investigation for their assistance in the investigation.
“MS-13 members do all they can to propagate a violent, deadly image as a gang. Their calculation that shouting the gang's name out in front of people on a subway platform will prevent anyone from interfering with a man being brutally beaten and murdered boggles the mind. Thanks to the work of the FBI Metro Safe Streets Task Force and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), their violent reputation won't protect them from going to federal prison,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
“Public executions are just another sobering example of the savagery that MS-13 engages in with the alleged criminal mayhem caused by those charged today,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh. “This multi-agency investigation by the OCDETF is an excellent example of how law enforcement at all levels will continue to use all available resources, aggressively exploit all available intelligence, and work as a unified team with a simple and singular goal - ridding the scourge of MS-13 from our communities.”
“It is only through our joint efforts to relentlessly disrupt and dismantle this kind of senseless criminality that we can continue to keep New Yorkers safe. I applaud our NYPD detectives and our federal and local law enforcement partners for investigating and prosecuting this case,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
Murder of Andy Peralta
As detailed in the complaints and the government’s detention letter filed earlier today, alleged MS-13 associate Juan Amaya-Ramirez is charged with the murder of 17-year-old Andy Peralta. On the night of April 23, 2018, Amaya-Ramirez and two others lured Peralta to Kissena Park in Flushing, Queens where they confronted him. Peralta had a tattoo of a crown on his chest which Amaya-Ramirez and the others mistakenly believed to be a symbol of the rival Latin Kings gang. The assailants fatally beat, stabbed and strangled Peralta. The victim’s tattoo was also slashed. Peralta’s assailants used Amaya-Ramirez’s iPhone to photograph Peralta’s corpse, while they displayed MS-13 gang signs with their hands. The photograph was found in Amaya-Ramirez’s iCloud account during a court-authorized search of the account.
Murder of Victor Alvarenga
Alleged MS-13 associates Douglas Melgar-Suriano and Jairo Martinez-Garcia are charged with the murder of Victor Alvarenga, who was shot and killed near his home in Flushing, Queens. In the early morning of November 4, 2018, the two defendants and a third individual laid in wait for Alvarenga. The men approached Alvarenga, who was walking down the street. After walking with him briefly, Melgar-Suriano allegedly shot Alvarenga multiple times in the head and body. As Alvarenga writhed on the pavement, Martinez-Garcia also shot him.
Murder of Abel Mosso
Alleged MS-13 member Ramiro Gutierrez and alleged gang associates Tito Martinez-Alvarenga and Victor Lopez are charged with the murder of Abel Mosso on a subway platform in Queens. In the early afternoon of February 3, 2019, Lopez and Martinez-Alvarenga followed Mosso, who they believed to be a member of the rival 18th Street gang, onto the No. 7-train at the Main Street station in Flushing, trailed by Gutierrez. Lopez and Martinez-Alvarenga assaulted Mosso inside the subway car and then dragged him out onto the platform at the 90th Street station in Jackson Heights. The defendants produced a gun, but Mosso wrestled it away. Gutierrez shouted in Spanish, “Nobody get involved, we’re MS-13, we’re going to kill him.” Gutierrez then grabbed the gun from Mosso and shot him multiple times, killing him. Law enforcement recovered a video posted on Facebook depicting the murder.
Conspiracy to Murder and Attempted Murder
Alleged MS-13 members Marlon Saracay-Lopez and Ismael Santos-Novoa, and alleged gang associate Emerson Martinez-Lara, are charged with conspiring between May 2019 and July 2019 to murder an MS-13 associate who failed to kill a rival gang member as ordered by Saracay-Lopez and Santos-Novoa. Saracay-Lopez, Santos-Novoa and alleged gang associate Victor Ramirez are also charged with attempting to murder an 18th Street gang member. During the resulting shooting on August 25, 2019 in Jackson Heights, Queens, a co-conspirator wounded an innocent bystander in the leg.
Martinez-Garcia, Melgar-Suriano, Ramirez and Santos-Novoa are scheduled to make their initial appearances this afternoon via teleconference before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy. Saracay-Lopez’s initial appearance will take place in United States District Court for the Central District of California. Martinez-Lara’s initial appearance will take place in the United States District Court in Maryland.
The charges in the complaints are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If convicted of the murders, Amaya-Ramirez, Melgar-Suriano, Martinez-Garcia, Gutierrez, Martinez-Alvarenga and Lopez face mandatory sentences of life in prison and are eligible for the death penalty. If convicted of the firearms and attempted murder charges, Saracay-Lopez, Santos-Novoa and Ramirez face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. If convicted, Martinez-Lara faces up to 15 years in prison for marijuana distribution conspiracy and murder conspiracy.
This case was investigated as part of the ongoing efforts by the OCDETF, a partnership that brings together the combined expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
Today’s charges are the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York targeting members of the MS-13. The MS-13’s leadership is based in El Salvador and Honduras, but the gang has thousands of members across the United States, comprised primarily of immigrants from Central America. Since 2003, hundreds of MS-13 members, including dozens of clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. A majority of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges for participating in murders, attempted murders and assaults. Since 2010, this Office has obtained indictments charging MS-13 members with carrying out more than 45 murders in the district and has convicted dozens of MS-13 leaders and members in connection with those murders. These prosecutions are the product of investigations led by our law enforcement partners.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Nadia E. Moore, Nadia Shihata and Phil Selden are in charge of the prosecution.
MARLON SARACAY-LOPEZ (also known as “Plocky”)
JUAN AMAYA-RAMIREZ (also known as “Cadaver”)
Fresh Meadows, New York
RAMIRO GUTIERREZ (also known as “Cara de Malo”)
Flushing, New York
VICTOR LOPEZ (also known as “Curioso”)
Flushing, New York
TITO MARTINEZ-ALVARENGA (also known as “Imprudente”)
Flushing, New York
JAIRO MARTINEZ-GARCIA (also known as “Colmillo”)
Flushing, New York
EMERSON MARTINEZ-LARA (also known as “Fugitivo”)
College Point, New York
DOUGLAS MELGAR-SURIANO (also known as “Clemencia”)
Flushing, New York
VICTOR RAMIREZ (also known as “Curioso”)
Elmhurst, New York
ISMAEL SANTOS-NOVOA (also known as “Profe” and “Travieso”)
Flushing, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket Nos. 20-MJ-347, 20-MJ-348, 20-MJ-349 and 20-MJ-350