A multi-agency investigation has led to charges against 10 alleged members and associates of La Mara Salvatrucha, a transnational criminal organization more commonly known as MS-13.
ICE announced in a press release that 10 individuals are now facing various charges, ranging from murder in-aid-of racketeering to firearms offenses and marijuana distribution, following an investigation that was prompted by the murders of three individuals, including one that took place on a subway platform in Queens, New York.
Three of the men are charged with the murder of 17-year-old Andy Peralta of Queens in April. 2018. The men are accused of fatally beating, stabbing and strangling Peralta before photographing themselves flashing gang signs above the victim's corpse. The men mistakenly believed the victim had a tattoo indicating affiliation with the rival Latin Kings street gang.
Three men are also charged with killing Abel Mosso on a subway platform in Queens. Believing the victim was a rival gang member, the three men allegedly assaulted Mosso inside a train before dragging the victim onto a subway platform. At one point, Mosso managed to wrestle a gun away from one of his assailants, but one of those assailants managed to retrieve the gun and proceeded to fatally shoot the victim multiple times. A video of the incident was posted on Facebook and recovered by investigators.
Two associates are charged with the murder of Victor Alvarenga, who was shot multiple times near his home in Flushing, Queens in Nov. 2019.
Other alleged MS-13 members face charges of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder after allegedly plotting to kill an associate for failing to kill a rival gang member. Three men are also accused of attempting to murder another gang member in a shootout where an innocent bystander was injured in the leg.
"Public executions are just another sobering example of the savagery that MS-13 engages in with the alleged criminal mayhem caused by those charged today,” said special agent for ICE Homeland Security Investigations Peter C. Fitzhugh. "This [multi-agency investigation] is an excellent example of how law enforcement at all levels will continue to use all available resources, aggressively exploit all available intelligence, and work as a unified team with a simple and singular goal – ridding the scourge of MS-13 from our communities.”
One of the defendants was arrested in Maryland on May 13, and five in New York and California on May 14. On May 15, four defendants in detention facilities were arrested and transferred to federal custody. If convicted of the murders, six of the men face mandatory life sentences in prison and are eligible for the death penalty. If convicted on firearms and attempted murder charges, three of the men face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison with a maximum of life behind bars. One of the men faces up to 15 years in prison for murder conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute marijuana.