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August 18, 2020Washington, DC, United StatesTransnational Gangs, Enforcement and Removal

ICE lodges detainers for MS-13 members, associates arrested by FBI for sex trafficking a minor

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Washington Field Office has placed immigration detainers on 10 individuals arrested by the FBI for sex trafficking or physical assault of a minor. The 10 are known members or close associates of MS-13, a notoriously violent transnational criminal gang, designated as a transnational criminal organization by the Department of Treasury in 2012.

ICE lodged immigration detainers against unlawfully present Salvadoran nationals Moises Orlando Celaya-Veliz, 25; Jose Eliezar Molina-Veliz, 20; Santos Ernesto Gutierrez Castro, 21; Carlos Jose Turicios Villatoro, 22; Jonathan Rafael Zelaya-Veliz, 24; Nelson Ezequiel Caballero Portillo, 24; Luis Alberto Gonzales, 31; unlawfully present Guatemalan national Gilberto Morales, 31, and unlawfully present Honduran nationals Sioni Alexander Bonilla Gonzalez, 20, and Orlando Alexis Salmeron Funez, 38. Celaya, Molina, Gutierrez, Turicios and Bonilla entered the U.S. as unaccompanied minors. An 11th individual was arrested by the FBI and is not currently subject to immigration enforcement. However, ICE is monitoring the case.

According to court documents, in August 2018, a 13-year-old identified as MINOR 2 ran away from a youth home in northern Virginia. Shortly after running away, MINOR 2 was introduced to members of MS-13. Members of the gang beat MINOR 2 26 times with a baseball bat as part of a gang initiation. Gang members then sex trafficked MINOR 2 in Virginia and Maryland using the currency of cash and drugs. While in Virginia, men lined up to have sex with her in a wooded area behind one target’s apartment complex. The men gave her drugs in exchange for sex. She was also harbored in various apartments in northern Virginia where men paid her and her handlers cash for sex.

According to court documents, MINOR 2 was later beaten again with a bat 26 times. After the second bat beating, MINOR 2 was transported to Maryland, where she was sold to numerous gang members and other customers in exchange for cash. Law enforcement recovered photographs and videos of MINOR 2 while being sexually exploited, along with numerous social media messages regarding the trafficking and sexual exploitation of MINOR 2.

ICE lodges immigration detainers on individuals who have been arrested on criminal charges and who ICE has probable cause to believe are removable aliens. The detainer asks the other law enforcement agency to notify ICE in advance of release and to maintain custody of the alien for a brief period of time so that ICE can take custody of that person in a safe and secure setting upon release from that agency’s custody.

This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, which is composed of FBI agents and task force officers from the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the Fairfax County Police, the Arlington County Police, the Alexandria City Police, the Prince William County Police and other surrounding agencies. Investigative and tactical assistance was provided by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement Removal Operations, the FBI Baltimore Field Office, the FBI Norfolk Field Office, the FBI Richmond Field Office, along with the Prince George’s County Police and the Montgomery County Police.