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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Tennessee

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Seven MS-13 Gang Members Indicted In Violent Crime And Drug Distribution Conspiracy

Conspired to Commit Acts Involving Murder, Intimidation, and Assault

NASHVILLE, Tenn.November 19, 2020 – A federal grand jury in Nashville returned a 16-count superseding indictment yesterday, charging seven MS-13 Gang members with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and serious firearm-related offenses, announced  U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee and Brian C. Rabbitt, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.

Those charged are:  Carlos Ochoa-Martinez, 31, aka “El Serio,” Jason Sandoval, 35, aka “Bin Laden,” Jorge Flores, 28, aka “Peluche,” all of Nashville; Jose Pineda-Caceres, 22, aka “Demente,” and Franklin Hernandez, 21, aka “Happy,” both of Honduras; Gerson Serrano-Ramirez, 33, aka “Frijole,” of El Salvador and Juan Melendez,” aka “Shaggy,” of Lebanon, Tennessee. 

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2014 and continuing until yesterday, the defendants conspired with each other to obtain bulk quantities of marijuana and cocaine for redistribution in and around middle Tennessee.  Once the drugs were received, the defendants would reduce them into smaller quantities and sell them in and around nightclubs in Nashville and from the parking lots and restrooms of these establishments.  In order to maximize drug distribution in these nightclubs, the defendants would threaten rival and competing drug dealers who sold and attempted to sell cocaine and marijuana in the nightclubs.    

In order to protect their drugs, territory and proceeds, the defendants would acquire, carry and discharge firearms and to maintain and extend control over their drug distribution they would commit acts involving murder, intimidation and assault against individuals who jeopardized its operations, including rival drug dealers.

All defendants are in custody and will appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge at a later date.

If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and up to 40 years. 

This investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; Homeland Security Investigations; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Ahmed Safeeullah and Trial Attorney Matthew Hoff of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime & Gang Section are prosecuting this case. 

An indictment is merely an accusation.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
David Boling Public Information Officer 615-736-5956
Updated November 19, 2020