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October 21, 2014San Francisco, CAUnited StatesTransnational Gangs

3 Bay Area MS-13 gang members sentenced on gang-related murder and racketeering charges

SAN FRANCISCO – Three Bay Area Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang members were each sentenced Wednesday to 27 years in prison on murder and racketeering conspiracy charges following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Daly City Police Department.

The defendants, Davie Jimmy Mejia-Sensente, a/k/a “Crazy” or “Loco,” 31; Carlos Mejia- Quintanilla, a/k/a “Sleepy” or “Dormido,” 25; and Luis Amilar-Zanas, a/k/a “Trucha,” 35, previously pleaded guilty to killing Alexander Temaj-Castanon. The defendants, who mistook Temaj-Castanon for a rival gang member, fatally shot the victim at a bus stop in Daly City on June 21, 2010.

According to court documents, the night of the murder the three defendants were riding a municipal bus from San Francisco to Daly City. When Temaj-Castanon boarded the bus, he sat near the men. Believing he looked like a member of the rival Norteño gang, the defendants decided to kill him.

Amilar-Zanas left a backpack containing a loaded gun for Mejia-Sensente and Mejia-Quintanilla to use, then climbed off the bus. When the bus stopped on Mission Street in Daly City, Mejia-Sensente and Mejia-Quintanilla got off along with the victim. Mejia-Sensente was carrying the backpack with the gun. After waiting until no one was around, Mejia-Quintanilla took the gun from the backpack and shot Temaj-Castanon at least once, knocking him to the ground. Mejia-Sensente then took the gun and shot Temaj-Castanon again. The victim died from his wounds. Temaj-Castanon was not affiliated with any gang.

“The brutal and senseless murder of Alexander Temaj-Castanon is an outrage that demonstrates the danger gangs pose to our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. “I commend the outstanding work of our federal and local law enforcement partners who collaborated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring these violent criminals to justice. We hope Alexander Temaj-Castanon’s family and loved ones are brought some measure of closure by the sentences handed down today.”

Previously, all three defendants pleaded guilty to conspiring to conduct the affairs of MS-13 through a pattern of racketeering, which included murder and use of a firearm, to cause the victim’s death. The sentences were imposed by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer.

“We’re gratified by today’s sentences because they represent another important stride in our ongoing effort to combat gang-related crime in the Bay Area,” said Tatum King, acting special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. “Working with the Daly City Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we’ve successfully brought to justice three dangerous gang members who ruthlessly murdered a member of our community. Rest assured, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to pursue transnational criminal organizations like MS-13, that show no regard for the law or human life.”

In addition to the gang-related charges, Mejia-Sensente pleaded guilty to being an illegal alien in possession of ammunition, while Amilar-Zanas also pleaded guilty to illegally re-entering the United States after having previously been deported.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew M. Scoble and Matthew L. McCarthy, aided by Erica Doerr, Ponly Tu, Ana Guerra, Marina Ponomarchuk, and Daniel Charlier-Smith.

Updated: 10/23/2014