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Press Release

Six Alleged MS-13 Members Indicted On Racketeering Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina
Two Defendants are Charged with Murder in Aid of Racketeering

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Six alleged members of the La Mara Salvartrucha, or MS-13 gang, have been charged with racketeering charges, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Two of the defendants are charged with murder in aid of racketeering. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on April 16, 2024, and was unsealed this morning.

Kyle Burns, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in North Carolina and South Carolina, Robert M. DeWitt, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Chief Johnny Jennings of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

The four individuals charged with racketeering (RICO) conspiracy are Fredy Mauricio Buruca, aka “Piranha,” “Machete,” and “Insoportable,” 26, of Salisbury, N.C.; Santos Guillermo Ramirez Mancia, aka “Azazel,” “Timido,” and “Johnny,” 32, of Annapolis, Maryland; Juan Francisco Sanchez Estrada, aka “Nene” and “Turbo,” 30, of Salisbury; and Luis Fernando Guardardo Moreno, aka “Fantasma” and “Scrappy,” 26, of El Salvador.

The two individuals charged with murder in aid of racketeering activity are Christian Alejandro Garcia Santa Cruz, aka “Crimen,” 31, and Aderly Jose Veliz-Ronquillo, aka “Chanchin,” 30, both of Annapolis.

Ramirez Mancia is also charged with accessory after the fact to murder in aid of racketeering.

“Street gangs threaten the well-being of our communities and spread violence, fear, and intimidation,” said U.S. Attorney King. “Our coordinated law enforcement efforts prioritize the investigation and prosecution of dangerous gangs to dismantle their operations and disrupt their criminal activities.”

“Finding, arresting and prosecuting those involved in gang activity greatly increases public safety and makes a dramatic impact in our communities,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Burns. “Cases like this reflect that great work that we and our law enforcement partners do to protect the homeland.”

“Violent gangs including MS-13 can wreak havoc in our communities. The FBI is committed to working with our local, state, and federal partners to target and dismantle gangs that threaten the safety and stability of our neighborhoods,” said Special Agent in Charge DeWitt. 

According to allegations in the indictment, the defendants were leaders and members of the MS-13 sub-unit, or clique, known as the Hollywood Locos Salvadorians Clique (the HLS clique), which operated in and around the Western District of North Carolina and other areas in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. From at least December 2018 and continuing through November 2022, as members of the HLS clique, the defendants allegedly were engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity that consisted of multiple acts and threats involving murder, kidnapping, extortion, robbery, and drug trafficking.

The investigation into the gang’s criminal activity revealed that these criminal acts were allegedly sanctioned by MS-13 leadership and were committed to promote a climate a fear and intimidation within the gang, to maintain the gang’s control and to expand its territory, to enforce discipline within the gang and punish any acts of disrespect, to intimidate witnesses and discourage cooperation with law enforcement, and to retaliate against rivals, or “chavalas.”

Participation in criminal activity was also intended to increase respect and ranking of members within the gang and to open the door to promotion to a leadership position. The indictment alleges that on November 6, 2022, Santa Cruz and Veliz-Ronquillo committed murder in aid of racketeering against a victim identified as W.G.M., for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing position in the MS-13 enterprise. Santa Cruz and Veliz-Ronquillo allegedly used and carried a firearm during and in relation to W.G.M.’s murder. Later, Mancia allegedly assisted Santa Cruz and Veliz-Ronquillo in order to hinder or prevent their apprehension for murder.

Santa Cruz and Veliz-Ronquillo had their initial court appearances, and they are in federal custody. The remaining defendants are in local custody on state offenses and will be scheduled to appear on the federal charges before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Charlotte.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney King commended the FBI, HSI, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department for their investigation of the case, and thanked the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, the Kannapolis Police Department, the Monroe Police Department, the Prince William County (Virginia) Sheriff’s Office, and the Annapolis (Maryland) Police Department for their invaluable assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erik Lindahl and David Kelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

Updated May 7, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime