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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Ohio

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 15, 2018

New Indictment Charges Columbus MS-13 Gang Members with Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, Including Five Central Ohio Murders

Total of 29 Defendants Charged by Indictment or Criminal Complaint in Columbus MS-13 Case

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A second superseding indictment returned here today charges 23 individuals alleged to be members and associates of the Columbus clique of MS-13 in a racketeering conspiracy, which includes five murders as well as attempted murder, extortion, money laundering, drug trafficking, assault, obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, weapons offenses and immigration-related violations.

The most recent indictment also includes three counts of murder in aid of racketeering and one count of murder through the use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, crimes that could make some of the defendants eligible for the death penalty. 

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, Rebecca Adducci, Detroit Field Office Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations, Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin and Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs announced the new charges.

Those named in today’s indictment include:

Name

Also Known As

Age

City

Martin Neftali Aguilar-Rivera

Momia, Pelon

32

Columbus, Ohio / Indianapolis

Jose Bonilla-Mejia

Espia

29

California

Juan Jose Jiminez-Montufar

Chele Trece

34

Columbus, Ohio

Pedro Alfonso Osorio-Flores

Smokey

38

Columbus, Ohio

Isaias Alvarado

Cabo

45

Columbus, Ohio

Cruz Alberto-Arbarngas

Cruzito

30

Columbus, Ohio

Jose Manuel Romero-Parada

Russo

23

Indianapolis

Juan Jose Alvarenga-Alberto

Sailen

27

Columbus, Ohio

Juan Pablo Flores-Castro

Duende

29

Columbus, Ohio

Jose Daniel Gonzalez-Campos

Flaco

29

Virginia

Jose Salvador Gonzalez-Campos

Danger

27

Indianapolis/ Virginia

Jose Mendez-Peraza

Shadow

36

Columbus, Ohio

Erasmo Humberto Lima-Martinez

Tun Tun, Azul, Chino

31

Columbus, Ohio

Nehemias Joel Martinez-Hernandez

Mysterio

21

Columbus, Ohio

Jose Carlos Mercado-Crespin

Payaso

32

Ohio

Denis Donaldo Fuentes-Avila

 

18

Columbus, Ohio

Daniel Alexander Diaz-Romero

Manchas

24

Deported

Gerardo Davila-Colindres

Cuervo, Enano

39

Columbus, Ohio

Marvin Otero-Serrano

Vaca, Bandallero, Yankee

31

Columbus, Ohio

Jorge Alberto Landaverde

Grenas

34

Columbus, Ohio

Jose Salinas-Enriquez

Martillo

32

Dayton, Ohio

*Nelson Alexander Flores

Mula

46

Fugitive

Carolina Garcia-Miranda

Mamayema

30

Columbus, Ohio

*Fugitive

Charged with murder

Since the beginning of this investigation, additional defendants have been arrested and charged in criminal complaints with federal immigration-related crimes.

MS-13

  • 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 United States 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 United States, with more than 10,000 members and associates operating in at least 40 states, including Ohio.
     
  • In Ohio and elsewhere in the United States, 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.  Cliques are grouped into larger “programs,” and the Columbus, Ohio clique of MS-13 is part of the East Coast Program.

 

  • Cliques raise money through various forms of criminal activity, including extortion and narcotics trafficking, in addition to paying regular dues at clique meetings, and a portion of that money is wired to leadership in El Salvador.  Gang leaders use this money to purchase weapons and cell phones and to provide clothing, legal assistance and other forms of aid to MS-13 members who are incarcerated and to support the families of MS-13 members who have been killed.
     
  • Violence is a central tenet of MS-13.  The organization’s motto, “mata, viola, controla,” means kill, rape, control. Historically, MS-13 members and associates have committed murders and other violent acts using machetes, knives and similar bladed weapons in order to intimidate and instill fear in others.

This Case

In July 2017, a federal grand jury charged 10 individuals with conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to commit money laundering and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

In December 2017, a superseding indictment charged four additional defendants and added charges of cocaine and marijuana distribution, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, obstruction of justice and illegal re-entry into the United States. Today’s second superseding indictment alleges the defendants have engaged in a racketeering conspiracy since approximately 2006 in the Southern District of Ohio and elsewhere.

The racketeering activity involves multiple acts of murder, extortion, drug trafficking, money laundering, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation. 

The second superseding indictment alleges that defendants committed a host of overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, including: 1) the December 2006 murder of Jose Mendez, a suspected confidential informant, in Perry County; 2) the November 2008 murder of Ramon Ramos on Lockbourne Road in Columbus; 3) the mid-2015 murder of Carlos Serrano-Ramos, a suspected rival gang member, near Innis Road in Columbus; 4) the November 2015 murder of Wilson Villeda near Innis Road in Columbus; and 5) the December 2016 murder of Salvador Martinez-Diaz,  a suspected rival gang member, on Melroy Avenue in Columbus.

Other criminal activity detailed in the newest indictment includes burning a victim’s car when the victim refused to be extorted for money, conspiring to murder at least one potential witness, threatening the lives of a Transnational Anti-Gang Unit officer and the officer’s family in El Salvador, threatening to kill an individual’s family if he cooperated with law enforcement, possessing multiple firearms and ammunition, possessing and distributing cocaine and marijuana and destroying evidence.

The crimes charged in this case and each crime’s potential maximum sentence include:

Crime

Potential Maximum Sentence

Conspiracy to commit racketeering

Life in prison (for defendants who committed murder)

 

20 years in prison (for all other defendants)

Murder in aid of racketeering

Life in prison or death

Murder through use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence

Life in prison or death

Brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence

At least 7 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed

Using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence

At least 5 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed

Possession with intent to distribute controlled substances

20 years in prison

Alien in possession of firearm or ammunition

10 years in prison

Obstruction of justice

20 years in prison

Destruction or removal of property to prevent seizure

5 years in prison

Illegal re-entry of a removed alien

2 years in prison

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI, ICE, Columbus Division of Police and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and the assistance of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Brian J. Martinez and Jessica H. Kim, who are prosecuting the case. The Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice assisted in reviewing the racketeering charges.

An indictment, superseding 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.

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Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Contact: 
jennifer.thornton@usdoj.gov
Updated February 15, 2018