Three Salvadoran members of the deadly street gang MS-13 were indicted Tuesday on federal charges that they ordered U.S. gang members to carry out cold-blooded murders and other vicious crimes — directing it all from their prison cells in El Salvador.
Dany Fredy Ramos Mejia, Saul Antonios Turcio Angel and Rigoberto Del Transito Mejia Regaldo conspired in a racketeering plot with murder, robbery, obstruction of justice and witness tampering, according to the 30-count indictment.
The indictment says the three defendants and at least 13 others conspired to commit murder and other violent crimes with firearms, baseball bats, machetes, bottles, and knives.
The three are members of MS-13, La Mara Salvatrucha, a violent street gang of immigrants or descendants of immigrants with members in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States.
Two of the members allegedly directed other MS-13 members to commit crimes, including murdering two people in the United States, from 2001 to March 2007. They also are connected to eight murders in Maryland and a murder in Virginia, the Justice Department said.
In 2004, Mejia and Angel videotaped themselves and fellow gang members in El Salvador planning gang activities, according to the indictment. In 2005, Angel used a cell phone to call members of the Teclas Locos Salvatruchos clique in Maryland to discuss crimes. Later that day, gang members killed two people and wounded a juvenile.
The three defendants remain in an El Salvador prison for crimes allegedly committed in that country. They face a maximum sentence in a U.S. prison
All three defendants are currently incarcerated in El Salvador on charges for crimes allegedly committed in that country. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence in the U.S. of life in prison for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales praised the indictments and thanked Salvadoran government officials for their assistance in the investigation.
"Together we are going to make the streets and the neighborhoods of all of the Americas safer for our children," Gonzales said at a press conference announcing the indictments.
Acting Director Michael J. Sullivan of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said the indictment sends a message to gang members.
"MS-13 is a criminal organization that has terrorized our nation's neighborhoods and jeopardized community safety for far too long," Sullivan said. "This indictment sends a strong signal that anyone who joins the gang and participates in violent acts on its behalf will continue to be brought to justice, no matter where they may hide."