Criminal Justice News

Friday, July 31, 2015

Twenty-Two MS-13 Members Sentenced for Violent Crimes



Twenty-two members of the international gang Mara Salvatrucha-13 (MS-13) have now been sentenced, many to life or decades in prison, for their roles in violent crimes in the Atlanta area between 2005 and 2010, including murders, attempted murders and armed robberies.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn of the Northern District of Georgia made the announcement.

On July 15, 2013, a jury convicted the following defendants:

    Miguel Alvarado-Linares, aka Joker, 26, of Norcross, Georgia, was convicted of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy involving murder, two counts of Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR) involving murder, two counts of VICAR involving attempted murder and four firearms offenses.  He was sentenced on Oct. 15, 2013, to serve three life sentences followed by 85 years in prison.
    Ernesto Escobar, aka Pink Panther, aka Flaco, 32, of Norcross, was convicted of one count of RICO conspiracy involving murder, one count of VICAR involving murder and one firearms offense.  He was sentenced on Dec. 20, 2013, to serve two life sentences followed by 10 years in prison.
    Dimas Alfaro-Granados, aka Toro, 32, of Duluth, Georgia, was convicted of one count of RICO conspiracy involving murder, two counts of VICAR involving murder and two firearms offenses.  He was sentenced on Oct. 30, 2013, to serve three life sentences followed by 35 years in prison.
    Jairo Reyna-Ozuna, aka Flaco, 30, of Norcross, was convicted of one count of RICO conspiracy and one firearms offense.  He was sentenced on Jan. 31, 2014, to serve 13 years in prison.

According to the evidence introduced at trial, Alvarado-Linares and Alfaro-Granados, along with another gang member, killed Lal Ko in October 2006.  Ko was a fellow MS-13 member, but Alvarado-Linares, one of the gang leaders, thought that Ko was cooperating with police and ordered his murder.

The trial evidence showed that in December 2006, when another MS-13 gang member wanted to quit the gang, Alvarado-Linares and Alfaro-Granados ordered him to kill a rival gang member as a condition of leaving MS-13.  Following orders, on Christmas Eve 2006, that gang member shot at a vehicle traveling on an interstate highway that he believed contained rival gang members.  A 20-year-old passenger in the vehicle was killed. 

The evidence at trial also demonstrated that on New Year’s Eve 2006, Alvarado-Linares shot two members of a rival gang.

Finally, the evidence introduced at trial showed that on Aug. 5, 2007, Reyna-Ozuna, who was a gang leader at the time, gave Escobar a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun and instructed him to shoot a teenager with whom Escobar had an altercation earlier that day. 

On Nov. 21, 2013, a jury convicted the following defendants:

    William Espinoza, aka Cheberria, aka El Crazy, 33, of Norcross, was convicted of one count of RICO conspiracy involving murder, one count of VICAR involving attempted murder and one firearms offense.  He was sentenced on April 15, 2014, to serve 20 years and eight months in prison.
    Remberto Argueta, aka Pitufo, 26, of Lilburn, Georgia, was convicted of one count of RICO conspiracy involving murder, one count of VICAR involving murder and one firearms offense.  He was sentenced on Oct. 29, 2014, to serve two life sentences followed by five years in prison.

According to the evidence presented at trial, on April 13, 2007, Argueta, along with other gang members, attempted to rob Arpolonio Rios-Jarquin, who the defendants suspected was drug dealer.  After discovering that Rios-Jarquin was armed, Argueta and fellow MS-13 members engaged in a shootout with Rios-Jarquin, during which Rios-Jarquin was killed.

The trial evidence showed that, on Oct. 24, 2007, Argueta and several other MS-13 members shot at rival gang members, hitting one in the back and another in the hip and arm.

The evidence also demonstrated that, while at a nightclub in DeKalb County, Georgia, on July 20, 2008, Espinoza and other members of MS-13 engaged in a fight with persons they suspected were members of a rival gang.  During the fight, Espinoza shot a man in the stomach.

Just two days later, according to evidence introduced at trial, Espinoza and four other MS-13 members identified a victim to rob for beer money.  When the victim resisted, Espinoza shot him through the head.

On Oct. 7, 2014, a jury convicted the following defendant:

    Elio Marroquin-Lopez, aka Perico, 29, of Chamblee, Georgia, was convicted of one count of RICO conspiracy.  He was sentenced on Oct. 29, 2014, to serve seven years and two months in prison.

According to the evidence introduced at trial, on Dec. 15, 2008, Marroquin-Lopez, who was one of the gang leaders, and two other gang members shot at the owner of an apartment that the defendants were attempting to rob.

The trial evidence also showed that on March 13, 2009, Marroquin-Lopez fought two suspected gang members and shot at one of them.

Finally, the evidence at trial demonstrated that Marroquin-Lopez often distributed baggies of cocaine to fellow MS-13 members at meetings and instructed them to sell the cocaine at clubs.

The following defendants previously pleaded guilty and have been sentenced:

    Jose Delgado, aka Fantasma, 28, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy involving murder and two counts of VICAR involving murder, and was sentenced on July 31, 2015, to serve 12 years in prison.
    Alex Ferrufino, aka Whiskey, 35, Tucker, Georgia, pleaded guilty to two counts of VICAR involving attempted murder and one firearms offense, and was sentenced on Sept. 11, 2014, to serve 25 years in prison.
    Joseph Ivan Dias, aka Travieso, 27, of Gainesville, Georgia, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and was sentenced on April 1, 2015, to serve 14 years in prison.
    Miguel Guevara, aka Blacky, 31, of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy involving murder and a firearms offense, and was sentenced on Feb. 13, 2015, to serve 30 years in prison.
    Kenedis Bonilla, aka Mago, 33, of Tucker, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy involving murder and a firearms offense, and was sentenced on June 13, 2015, to serve 15 years in prison.
    Salvador Franco, aka Smiley, 30, of Norcross, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and a firearms offense, and was sentenced on Sept.11, 2014, to serve 12 years in prison.
    Edwin Menjivar, aka Chilly Willy, aka Vago, 33, of Norcross, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and VICAR involving attempted murder, and was sentenced on Nov. 21, 2014, to serve 11 years in prison.
    Omar Cubillos, aka Pancho, 30, of Gainesville, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy involving murder and a firearms offense, and was sentenced on June 15, 2015, to serve 20 years in prison.
    Carlos Mendoza, aka Catracho, 30, of Atlanta, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy involving murder and a firearms offense, and was sentenced on April 30, 2015, to serve 17 years and six months in prison.
    Emmanual Hidalgo, aka Scooby, 29, of Chamblee, pleading guilty to RICO conspiracy involving murder and a firearms offense, and was sentenced on Nov. 21, 2014, to serve 25 years in prison.
    Christopher Castro Ramirez, aka Demente, 26, of Norcross, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and was sentenced on Nov. 1, 2012, to serve two years and six months in prison.
    Enzo Baires, aka Ghost, 25, of Norcross, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy involving murder and was sentenced on May 11, 2015, to serve 12 years in prison.
    Irvin Mejia-Cruz, aka Lil Triste, aka Triste, 25, of Duluth, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and was sentenced on Feb. 13, 2015, to serve nine years in prison.
    Walter Aldana, aka Goofy, 25, of Norcross, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and was sentenced on Feb. 13, 2015, to serve 10 years in prison.
    William Pineda, aka Slayer, 32, of Lawrenceville, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and was sentenced on Dec. 11, 2014, to serve seven years in prison.

These cases were investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Gwinnett County, Georgia, Police Department, the DeKalb County Police Department, the Norcross Police Department, the Chamblee Police Department, and the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.

These cases were prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul R. Jones and Kim S. Dammers of the Northern District of Georgia.

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