“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

A four-count indictment was unsealed today in Federal Court in Central Islip, charging 13 of the highest-ranking MS-13 leaders in the world with directing the transnational criminal organization’s criminal activities in the United States, El Salvador, Mexico, and elsewhere, over the past two decades. 

The defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to provide or conceal material support to terrorists, and narco-terrorism conspiracy. Four of the defendants are indicted on an alien smuggling conspiracy.

“Today’s action makes clear that there is no hiding place, anywhere in the world, for the leaders of violent gangs that terrorize American communities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Justice Department will continue to use the full force of our law enforcement authorities to disrupt and dismantle MS-13 and other transnational criminal organizations and hold their leaders accountable.”

“The FBI will continue to vigorously investigate and hold transnational organized groups like MS-13 and their leaders accountable for the continued violent and terrorist criminal activities they orchestrate,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Today’s indictment demonstrates the FBI’s reach and commitment to seeking justice against those individuals who jeopardize American lives and liberty. We will never stop coordinating with our international partners to protect our respective citizens from MS-13 and other gangs wherever they are.”

“The relentless and heroic efforts of law enforcement here and in Central America are systemically dismantling the MS-13 from the very top to bottom, and we will not stop until this transnational gang and its leaders are held accountable for the extreme violence they have inflicted on our district, the United States and the countries where this scourge is based,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York.

Extradited from Mexico to the United States

Vladimir Antonio Arevalo-Chavez, aka Vampiro de Monserrat Criminales

Walter Yovani Hernandez-Rivera, aka Baxter de Park View and Bastard de Park View
Marlon Antonio Menjivar-Portillo, aka Rojo de Park View
Arevalo-Chavez, Hernandez-Rivera, and Menjivar-Portillo arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and were placed under arrest by the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The defendants had their initial appearances in the Southern District of Texas, pending removal to the Eastern District of New York.

Four co-defendants, Jose Wilfredo Ayala-Alcantara, Indio de Hollywood, Jorge Alexander De La Cruz, Cruger de Peatonales, Juan Antonio Martinez-Abrego, aka Mary Jane de Hollywood, and Francisco Javier Roman-Bardales, also known as Veterano de Tribus, remain at large.

Thousands of MS-13 & Barrio-18 Gang Members in One Mega Prison

These indictments come at the same time that El Salvador has started to fill its mega-prison with a transfer of 2,000 gang members and criminals, including members of MS-13 and Barrio-18.

“Today at dawn, in a single operation, we transferred the first 2,000 gang members to the Center for the Confinement of Terrorism (CECOT),” El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele wrote on Twitter. “This will be their new home, where they won’t be able to do any more harm to the population.”

The prisoners can be seen sitting tightly packed together on the floor of the facility with their hands behind their heads while they stare down at their feet.
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The new 40,000-person facility opened last month after an accelerated building schedule, doubling El Salvador’s prison capacity in less than a year. The prison is one of Latin America’s largest, with 37 guard towers and eight cellblocks that will be “impossible to escape.”
Bukele declared a “state of exception” in March 2022 as he empowered his government to crack down on gang members by loosening the country’s arrest laws, such as no longer requiring a warrant for an arrest and granting the government access to citizens’ communications.
He pushed through the new measure following three days of violence that left 87 people dead. Bukele blamed MS-13 for the violence, and authorities claimed that they had captured the MS-13 leaders who had ordered the killings, during the statewide sweep.