CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Two members of the violent transnational criminal organization La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the “MS-13,” were arrested in Charlotte and Salisbury in connection with murders and other crimes in New York.
A 24-count indictment was unsealed Tuesday in federal court, charging eight members of MS-13 with multiple racketeering offenses in connection with six murders, two attempted murders, a kidnapping conspiracy and narcotics trafficking conspiracies, as well as related charges including assault in aid of racketeering and firearms offenses.
Jose Moises Blanco, 30, and Oseas Gonzalez, 28, were arrested Tuesday morning in Salisbury and Charlotte, North Carolina, respectively. Both appeared in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina and were both detained.
Blanco and Gonzalez will be transferred to the Eastern District of New York and arraigned at a later date before United States Circuit Judge Joseph F. Bianco.
The defendants include Carlos Alfaro, Jose Moises Blanco, Oseas Gonzalez, Jose Jonathan Guevara-Castro, Victor Lopez-Morales, Ever Morales-Lopez, David Sosa-Guevara and Kevin Torres.
These eight defendants are allegedly are members of one of two subgroups or “cliques” of the MS-13 operating on Long Island: the Hollywood Locos Salvatruchas (“Hollywood”) clique and the Sailors Locos Salvatruchas Westside (“Sailors”) clique.
Sosa-Guevara and Torres allegedly were the New York leaders of the Hollywood and Sailors cliques, respectively, and were in direct communication with high-ranking MS-13 leaders in El Salvador.
Alfaro, Lopez-Morales, Morales-Lopez and Sosa-Guevara, are in state custody, and Torres, who is in federal custody, will also be arraigned at a later date before Circuit Judge Bianco.
Guevara-Castro remains at large.
Two additional MS-13 members, both of whom were juveniles at the time they allegedly committed the crimes, have separately been charged with racketeering offenses and several murders. By statute, those cases remains under seal at this time.
As detailed in the indictment and in the government’s detention letter, in 2016 and 2017 the Sailors and Hollywood cliques of the MS-13 gang, both of whom had a significant presence in the Roosevelt and Freeport areas of Nassau County, collaborated in the criminal activities on behalf of the MS-13, including the murders of suspected rival gang members.
Torres is charged in connection with his alleged leadership role in the murder of 19-year- old Oscar Acosta, who was suspected of associating himself with the MS-13′s principal rival on Long Island, the 18th Street gang.
The indictment charges Gonzalez, Guevara-Castro, Lopez-Morales, Morales-Lopez, Sosa-Guevara and Torres with the murder of 20-year-old Kerin Pineda, who was believed to be a member of the rival 18th Street gang.
Hollywood clique members Alfaro, Blanco, Gonzalez and Lopez-Morales are charged in connection with their alleged roles in the murder of 19-year-old Josue Amaya-Leonor on September 4, 2016 because of his perceived association with the 18th Street gang.
Torres is charged for his role in allegedly authorizing the murder of 15-year-old Javier Castillo on October 10, 2016 for his perceived association with the 18th Street gang.
Alfaro is charged with the October 14, 2016 murder of 24-year-old Carlos Ventura-Zelaya in Roosevelt. Ventura-Zelaya had reportedly been marked for death by the MS-13 because of his suspected membership in the rival 18th Street gang.
The racketeering charges against Hollywood clique members Lopez-Morales and Sosa-Guevara include the July 21, 2017 murder of 15-year-old Angel Soler and an August 2017 conspiracy to kidnap a victim identified in the indictment as John Doe #3. Soler was a suspected 18th Street gang member, and Sosa-Guevara allegedly ordered his murder.
Court documents say just weeks after the Soler murder, Lopez-Morales and Sosa-Guevara allegedly planned the kidnapping, assault, and/or murder of John Doe #3, an MS-13 member who had reportedly violated the rules of the gang.
The indictment charges Hollywood clique members Alfaro and Gonzalez with attacking a group of males who had gathered in front of a house in Brentwood on July 18, 2016.
The indictment charges various members of the Sailors clique with conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and members of the Hollywood clique with conspiring to distribute marijuana, stemming from the MS-13 cliques’ alleged street-level sales of cocaine and marijuana on Long Island.
Additionally, during the execution of court-authorized search and seizure warrants at the North Carolina residences of both Blanco and Gonzalez Tuesday, law enforcement agents and officers recovered additional evidence, including machetes, firearms, ammunition, narcotics, and MS-13 related paraphernalia.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to life in prison, and is eligible for the death penalty.