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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Three Defendants in MS-13 Racketeering Case Plead Guilty

One defendant takes responsibility for Indianapolis murder discovered as part of this case

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Court accepted guilty pleas this week from three defendants in the
MS-13 racketeering case. Each defendant accepted responsibility for murder, including one homicide in Indianapolis investigated as part of this case.

 

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Todd A. Wickerham, 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 Interim Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan announced the pleas entered into before Chief U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr.

 

In February 2018, 23 individuals were charged in a second superseding indictment and alleged to be members and associates of MS-13 in Columbus.

 

The defendants are charged 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 second superseding indictment alleges that the 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.

 

Jose Manuel Romero-Parada (a/k/a Russo), 24, of Columbus, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to a superseding information. Through his plea to racketeering conspiracy, he accepted responsibility for his role in the murders of Carlos Serrano-Ramos and Wilson Villeda.  In addition, he accepted responsibility for his involvement in the murder of Israel Anibal Mejia-Martinez, who was killed with bladed weapons and buried in a park in Indianapolis in 2017. The parties in Romero-Parada’s case have recommended a sentence of 35 to 40 years in prison.  

 

Jose Bonilla-Mejia (a/k/a Espia), 30, of Santa Maria, Calif., accepted responsibility for his role in the murders of Carlos Serrano-Ramos, Wilson Villeda and Salvador Martinez-Diaz. As part of his plea, he will serve life in prison without the possibility of release. Chief Judge Sargus accepted Bonilla-Mejia’s guilty plea this afternoon.

 

Juan Jose Alvarenga-Alberto (a/k/a Sailen), 30, of Columbus, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon. He accepted responsibility for his role in the 2016 shooting death of Salvador Martinez-Diaz in Columbus.

 

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 the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance with Bonilla-Mejia’s resolution.

 

Assistant United States Attorneys Brian J. Martinez and Jessica H. Kim are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

 

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Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Contact: 
jennifer.thornton@usdoj.gov
Updated August 7, 2019