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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 8, 2016

MS-13 Member Sentenced To Over Twenty-Seven Years Imprisonment For Gang-Related Murder And Other Crimes

Defendant was Extradited From Mexico To Answer for Murder, Gang Charges

SAN FRANCISCO – Defendant Jaime Balam (a/k/a “Tweety”) was sentenced today to 330 months’ imprisonment announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable William H. Alsup, U.S. District Judge following a guilty plea entered August 16, 2016, in which Balam acknowledged committing numerous crimes including conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, and illegal use and possession of firearms. 

Balam, 27, is a native and citizen of Mexico.  According to his guilty plea, since 2008, he was a member of La Mara Salvatrucha, or “MS-13,” a transnational criminal gang operating in various Central American countries and in numerous states across the United States. In his plea agreement, Balam acknowledged that as a member of MS-13, he conspired with other gang members to conduct of the affairs of MS-13 through a pattern of racketeering activity that included murder, attempted murder, and other acts of violence.  For example, Balam acknowledged that in order to maintain and increase his position as an MS-13 gang member, he would kill members of rival gangs and those believed to be members of rival gangs. 

Described in Balam’s plea agreement are the events of February 19, 2009.  On that day, Balam was riding in a stolen car with other gang members “hunting” for rival gang members in parts of San Francisco and Daly City.  When his coconspirators spotted a car parked near the Daly City BART station, Balam and another gang member exited the car, approached the suspected rival gang members from behind, and opened fire at the people seated inside the car.  The gun fire killed one person and gravely wounded two others.  Balam admitted he did not know the victims in the car; other court documents make clear that the victims were not gang members, but rather four friends on a regular Thursday evening outing for dinner and drinks.

Balam was indicted on August 21, 2012, and charged with racketeering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5); conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6); murder in aid of racketeering activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1); attempted murder in aid of racketeering activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) (three counts); carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A); causing death in the commission of a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j); and being an alien unlawfully in possession of a firearm or ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5).  In February of 2015, Balam was extradited from Mexico and brought to the United States to face the charges in the indictment.  Pursuant to his plea agreement, Balam pleaded guilty to all but one of the murder in aid of racketeering charges. 

In addition to the prison term, Judge Alsup sentenced Balam to five years of supervised release and to pay $21,650 in restitution to the murder victim’s father. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Scoble is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Lance Libatique and Kevin Costello.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, the San Francisco Police Department, and the Daly City Police Department.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated December 27, 2016