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Transnational Gangs
11/09/2016

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MS-13 member sentenced to nearly 30 years’ imprisonment for gang-related murder, other crimes

Defendant extradited from Mexico to face charges

SAN FRANCISCO – A Bay Area gang member was sentenced Tuesday to 330 months in prison following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Daly City and San Francisco police departments that identified him as a participant in a 2009 shooting that killed one person and gravely injured two others.

Jaime “Tweety” Balam, 27, a Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang member from Mexico, was indicted in 2012 on murder and racketeering charges for his role in a shooting at a Daly City BART station. According to court documents, on Feb. 19, 2009, Balam was riding in a stolen car with other MS-13 members “hunting” for rival gang members. When the group spotted a car parked near the Daly City BART station, Balam and another gang member approached the vehicle from behind and opened fire on the people inside, killing one and gravely wounded two others. Court documents make clear the victims were not gang members, but rather four friends on a regular Thursday evening outing for dinner and drinks.

Balam was indicted for racketeering conspiracy; conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering activity; conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering activity; murder in aid of racketeering activity; three counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering activity; carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and being an alien unlawfully in possession of a firearm or ammunition. In February 2015, Balam was extradited to the U.S. from Mexico to face the charges. Under his plea agreement, Balam pleaded guilty to all but one of the murder in aid of racketeering charges.

In pleading guilty, Balam acknowledged that as a member of MS-13, he conspired with other gang members to conduct of the affairs of MS-13 through a pattern of racketeering activity that included murder, attempted murder, and other acts of violence. For example, Balam acknowledged that in order to maintain and increase his position as an MS-13 gang member, he would kill members of rival gangs and those believed to be members of rival gangs. 

In addition to the jail time, Balam will be subject to five years’ supervised release upon completion of his prison term. He was also ordered to pay $21,650 in restitution to the murder victim’s father. 

“Today’s sentence represents another important stride in the tireless work by HSI and its law enforcement partners to target and ultimately dismantle the transnational street gangs that are spreading crime and violence throughout our communities,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI San Francisco. “Our efforts to combat this threat are still very much ongoing. We will not forget the loss of an innocent life that resulted from this defendant’s ruthless actions. To the gang members who are still out there committing crimes, I send this message, ‘the long arm of the law will reach you, and you too will suffer the consequences of your insidious behavior.’”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Scoble is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Lance Libatique and Kevin Costello.  

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 11/14/2016