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January 2, 2018Columbus, OH, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

4 more members and associates of MS-13 charged in ongoing central Ohio investigation

Total of 23 defendants have been charged by indictment or criminal complaint

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Four additional individuals alleged to be members and associates of MS-13 have been charged by a federal grand jury in a superseding indictment unsealed Tuesday, following an ongoing investigation by the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and local authorities.

The new indictment also includes eight additional charges, including in part: conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, alien in possession of firearms and/or ammunition, obstruction of justice, destruction or removal of property to prevent seizure and illegal reentry of a previously removed alien.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 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.                                                                

“ICE will continue to be relentless in our efforts to rid the community of MS-13 members and the related criminal activity that comes with gang activity,” said Rebecca Adducci, field office director for ERO Detroit, which covers Michigan and Ohio. “Working together with our law enforcement partners, ICE will use its unique authorities to arrest MS-13 members who are subject to removal from the United States.”

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

Five other individuals were arrested and charged in criminal complaints this summer with federal immigration-related crimes. Since that time, another four individuals have been arrested and charged by criminal complaint with federal immigration-related crimes.

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.

The 11-count superseding indictment alleges that defendants – members and associates of the MS-13 – conspired to commit extortion through the use of threatened or actual force, violence or fear to intimidate their victims into paying money to the defendants and their co-conspirators. Many of the proceeds were sent, usually by wire transfer and often through intermediaries, to MS-13 members and associates in El Salvador and elsewhere. The money was then used to promote and facilitate the criminal activities of MS-13 in El Salvador and the United States.   

As part of the alleged conspiracy, the defendants and their co-conspirators unlawfully obtained extortion and drug trafficking proceeds to be used to, among other things, buy items that MS-13 uses to engage in criminal activity, such as cell phones, narcotics and weapons; provide financial support and information to MS-13 members, including those incarcerated in El Salvador and the United States, as well as those who have been deported; and aid families of deceased MS-13 members.

The superseding indictment also alleges that various defendants conspired to possess cocaine and marijuana with the intent of distributing the drugs.

Jose Martin Aguilar-Rivera, an illegal alien, allegedly possessed ammunition. Juan Jimenez-Monufar, also an illegal alien, allegedly possessed multiple firearms.

On August 26, according to the superseding indictment, Isaias Alvarado attempted to obstruct justice and prevent the lawful seizure of evidence by directing another individual to dispose of a firearm.

“The defendants and charges added in the indictment unsealed today illustrate our continued dedication to eradicating MS-13’s presence from our communities in the Southern District of Ohio,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “This investigation is ongoing.”

“This is a great example of law enforcement and the community working together to make neighborhoods safe," stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Angela Byers. "We urge any additional victims of MS-13 to contact the FBI so we can provide assistance and continue these important efforts.”

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.

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.