ICE Arrests 17 in California, Including MS-13 Members

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced in a press release that it had arrested 17 people in several cities in California, six of whom are suspected members of the brutal MS-13 street gang.

“The investigation led to 17 Bay Area residents being indicted by a federal grand jury for a broad range of racketeering crimes including RICO conspiracy, attempted murder, and assault,” according to the release. “During the arrests, HSI special agents recovered two handguns with ammunition. They also recovered a machete, which is known as a weapon of choice for MS-13 gang members.”

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The RICO indictment against the gang members alleges that they “conspired to engage in racketeering for the purpose of preserving the power, territory, reputation, and profits of the local MS-13 clique, known as MS-13 20th Street.”

For example, it alleges that in 2016, Alexis Cruz Zepeda and Kevin Reyes Melendez, both suspected MS-13 members, shot a rival gang member five times before fleeing the scene in a car driven by fellow MS-13 member Ronaldy Dominguez.

The alleged criminals evaded police after a high speed chase by driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

The victim survived the shooting.

“Similarly, the superseding indictment alleges that on Nov. 26, 2017, when MS-13 gang members attempted to extort cash and drugs from street dealers, defendant Elmer Rodriguez, a.k.a. Gordo, shot a victim in the chest at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun,” the press release said.

In a RICO case, each defendant is charged with Racketeering Conspiracy, which can carry a maximum sentences of life in prison, depending on other crimes the defendant allegedly committed in his individual role in the larger conspiracy.

For example, Edwin Alvarado Amaya, 22, was charged with Attempted Murder in Aid of Racketeering on top of the Racketeering Conspiracy charge. His maximum sentence for the Racketeering Conspiracy charge is life in prison, with up to an additional 10 years in prison if he is found guilty of the Attempted Murder charge.

Another defendant, Kenneth Campos, 30, was charged with Racketeering Conspiracy and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering. His maximum Racketeering Conspiracy sentence is 20 years in prison, and his maximum sentence for the Assault with a Dangerous Weapon charge is another 20 years.

ICE said that it arrested hundreds of MS-13 members in 2019.

“In fiscal year 2019, HSI agents made nearly 4,000 arrests of transnational gang members; of those, more than 300 were tied to MS-13.”


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