"Today's indictment is the product of tremendous cooperation and efforts of HSI special agents and local law enforcement officers. As a result, these violent gang members will now be brought to justice to face very serious federal charges," said Executive Associate Director James Dinkins of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). "HSI is committed to enhancing the public safety of the residents in the national Capitol Region by attacking and dismantling transnational gangs such as MS-13."
The 35-count indictment charges various defendants with taking part in a racketeering conspiracy, as well as murder in aid of racketeering, kidnapping in aid of racketeering, assault with a deadly weapon in aid of racketeering, and other offenses. The indictment alleges that all of the defendants were members of MS-13 at the time of the offenses.
The charges expand upon an earlier indictment returned against four of the defendants in September 2010. The new indictment names those four defendants, and adds seven other defendants to the case, along with broader allegations of the gang's criminal conduct.
Law enforcement authorities arrested four of the defendants today as part of a coordinated national effort against street gangs. The charges carry significant penalties. All of the defendants could face maximum terms of life in prison. One defendant, Hector Diaz-Flores, is charged with murder in aid of racketeering, an offense that could be punishable by death.
According to the indictment, MS-13 is a transnational gang with members in most of the states within the United States, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. It is alleged that MS-13 engages in racketeering activity to include murder, narcotics distribution, extortion, robberies, and obstruction of justice, among other crimes.
The indictment details stabbings, beatings, assaults and murders from 2008 through 2010. It alleges that some defendants participated in assaults against persons they believed to be rival gang members, threats against persons they believed to be cooperating with law enforcement, and extortions. The range of criminal activity includes acts in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and other states. The indictment also alleges that there was frequent contact between MS-13 members in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and El Salvador and that persons incarcerated in El Salvador encouraged or ordered assaults and murders.
Among other charges, the indictment charges Hector Diaz-Flores with the December 12, 2008 murder of 14-year-old Giovanni Sanchez, whose body was found in a roadway near 14th and Newton Streets NW, in Washington, D.C. Diaz-Flores previously was indicted in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on charges of second-degree murder while armed, conspiracy, and gang-related and weapons offenses stemming from the slaying.
The indictment also alleges that the March 31, 2010 murder of Felipe Enriquez, 25, which took place in Montgomery County, Md., was an overt act committed by Manuel Saravia, Jose Martinez, and Noe Machado-Erazo in furtherance of the conspiracy.
Aguilar, Mejia and Silva previously were indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on federal charges stemming from a December 11, 2009 home invasion in which they held five occupants at gunpoint and knifepoint. Sarba also was indicted in that case, accused of calling potential witnesses and making threats. Those charges now become part of this indictment against them.
Arrested today were Marchado-Erazo, Martinez-Amaya, Rios, and Saravia. All of the others previously were in custody, except for Lopez-Ramirez, who is believed to be in Honduras.
"This indictment is our most recent step in a targeted, sustained effort to dismantle MS-13 and other violent gangs that threaten our neighborhoods," said U.S. Attorney Machen. "The allegations describe a string of beatings, assaults, and murders across the D.C. metro area, including the stabbing death of a 14-year-old boy in Columbia Heights. I want to commend our law enforcement partners for their hard work to bring criminal gang members to justice."
"We are committed to pursuing any gang that tries to set up operations in our city," said MPD Chief Lanier.
The case is being investigated by ICE HSI and the MPD. Assistance was provided by the Montgomery County, Md. Police Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland For more information, visit www.ice.gov.