COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Thirteen members of the MS-13 gang have been arrested in central Ohio and Indiana, according to federal authorities.
According to a release by the Department of Justice, federal and local law enforcement agencies in central Ohio and Indiana arrested 13 people Tuesday morning associated with the MS-13 gang.
The Department of Justice said in a release Tuesday a federal grand jury charged 10 people with conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence in an indictment returned on July 27. Five other individuals were arrested and charged in criminal complaints with federal immigration-related crimes. Two of the 15 remain fugitives.
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, according to the DOJ. 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.
The DOJ says 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 indictment alleges that 10 defendants – members and associates of the Columbus clique of 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 proceeds to be used to, among other things, buy items that MS-13 uses to engage in criminal activity, such as cellular 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 10 defendants charged in the indictment are:
|Name||Also Known As||Age||City|
|Jose Martin Neftali Aguilar-Rivera||Momia, Pelon||32||Columbus, Ohio/ Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Pedro Alfonso Osorio-Flores||Smokey||38||Columbus, Ohio|
|Juan Jose Jiminez-Montufar||Chele Trece||33||Columbus, Ohio|
|Isaias Alvarado||Cabo||44||Columbus, Ohio|
|Cruz Alberto-Arbarngas||Cruzito||30||Columbus, Ohio|
|*Jose Manuel Romero-Parada||Russo||22||Fugitive – Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Jose Salinas-Enriquez||Martillo||32||Dayton, Ohio|
|Jorge Cazares||Veneno||37||Columbus, Ohio|
|Jose Ramiro Aparicio-Olivares||Flaco||42||Columbus, Ohio|
|*Nelson Alexander Flores||Mula||46||Fugitive – whereabouts unknown|
Conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to commit money laundering are each crimes punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence carries a sentence of at least seven years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed in the case.
The five defendants charged with immigration offenses in criminal complaints are:
|Name||Also Known As||Age||City|
|Antonio Galdamez-Figueroa||Pinochio||29||Columbus, Ohio|
|Juan Pablo Flores-Castro||Duende||29||Columbus, Ohio|
|Jorge Alberto Landaverde||Grenas||33||Columbus, Ohio|
|Juan Jose Alvarenga-Alberto||Sailen||27||Columbus, Ohio|
|Marvin Otero-Serrano||Vaca||31||Columbus, Ohio|
Illegally re-entering the United States after having been previously deported is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison.