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Friday, 12 August 2011

7 linked to MS-13 accused of Houston murders

21:20 |

Seven alleged members and associates of the MS-13 street gang are charged with three slayings and committing other mayhem as part of a racketeering operation that killed, robbed and dealt drugs in Houston, officials said Thursday.
The gang, also known as the Mara Salvatrucha, has roots in El Salvador and a record in numerous countries.
A newly unsealed federal indictment contends that those charged committed murder in order to move up in the gang, which was hungry to control territory and keep the community in fear.
Defendants are accused of dividing Houston into cliques, smaller groups that operated in regions of the city and held regular meetings to discuss gang rules and criminal activity as well as collect dues.
They also used cellphones, text messages and social networking to conduct business, according to authorities.
Code of silence detailed
Authorities believe two of the MS-13's victims this year — identified as Saul Garduno, 15, and Jonathan Hernandez, 24 — were gang rivals.
It is not yet known why a third victim, 17-year-old Anayanci Roche, was killed.
The indictment describes the inner workings of the gang, saying there is no tolerance for members or associates suspected of cooperating with police.
"The sanction for violating the code of silence is termed a green light … the gang's approval for the killing of someone suspect of cooperating with law enforcement," notes the indictment.
Those charged were identified as Hector Ovidio Molina Fuentes, 33; Jose Gabriel Garcia Calderon, 19; Ernesto Manuel Mejia, 18; Samuel DeJesus Argueta, 21; Ronald Alexander Gomez, 19; Jaime Eduardo Lopez Torres, 29; and Carlos Contreras, 21.
Two arrested elsewhere
It is not clear which of the defendants, if any, grew up in Houston. Contreras is in custody in Panama and facing extradition to the United States. Another defendant was arrested in Arkansas.
Stephen Morris, head of the FBI's Houston division, said the probe of the MS-13 continues.
"Our investigation into this violent gang is not over," Morris said. "We will continue to pursue MS-13 and any other gang members who seek to poison our streets with drugs and violence."
He encouraged the public to come forward with information on their dealings.
Jose Angel Moreno, the top federal prosecutor for a region that stretches from Houston to the Mexican border, stressed that the gang's activities cast a wide net.
The MS-13 first reached into the United States in the 1980s, according to a statement released by federal authorities who announced the indictment.


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