COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Multiple members of the MS-13 gang have been arrested in central Ohio, according to federal authorities.
According to a release by the Department of Justice, federal and local law enforcement agencies in central Ohio and Indiana arrested 13 people Tuesday morning associated with the MS-13 gang.
A federal grand jury charged 10 individuals with conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence in an indictment returned here on July 27. Five other individuals were arrested and charged in criminal complaints with federal immigration-related crimes. Two of the 15 remain fugitives.
“MS-13 is an incredibly violent gang. That’s its calling card. In fact the motto of the gang is, ‘Kill, rape and control,'” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman of the Southern District of Ohio. “The enforcement action today is the product of an investigation that has been going on for well over a year, year and a half.”
He said the indictment reaches as far back as 2010, but said the MS-13 Columbus clique could have been in Central Ohio before then.
“Some members lived in Columbus and have been here for a long time and some have lived in Columbus and Indianapolis, one in Dayton, so varying different lengths of time they’ve been residents in these areas,” said Glassman.
MS-13, formally La Mara Salvatrucha, is a multi-national criminal organization composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The organization’s leadership is based in El Salvador, where many of the gang’s high-ranking members are imprisoned.
“The money laundering allegation in the indictment is that these members of this clique, working in coordination with the East Coast program for MS-13 would send proceeds of their extortion back to leadership in El Salvador in order to further promote the activities of MS-13,” said Glassman.
The indictment alleges that 10 defendants – members and associates of the Columbus clique of MS-13 – conspired to commit extortion through the use of threatened or actual force, violence or fear to intimidate their victims into paying money to the defendants and their co-conspirators. Many of the proceeds were sent, usually by wire transfer and often through intermediaries, to MS-13 members and associates in El Salvador and elsewhere. The money was then used to promote and facilitate the criminal activities of MS-13 in El Salvador and the United States.
The 10 defendants charged in the indictment are:
|Name||Also Known As||Age||City|
|Jose Martin Neftali Aguilar-Rivera||Momia, Pelon||32||Columbus, Ohio/ Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Pedro Alfonso Osorio-Flores||Smokey||38||Columbus, Ohio|
|Juan Jose Jiminez-Montufar||Chele Trece||33||Columbus, Ohio|
|Isaias Alvarado||Cabo||44||Columbus, Ohio|
|Cruz Alberto-Arbarngas||Cruzito||30||Columbus, Ohio|
|*Jose Manuel Romero-Parada||Russo||22||Fugitive – Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Jose Salinas-Enriquez||Martillo||32||Dayton, Ohio|
|Jorge Cazares||Veneno||37||Columbus, Ohio|
|Jose Ramiro Aparicio-Olivares||Flaco||42||Columbus, Ohio|
|*Nelson Alexander Flores||Mula||46||Fugitive – whereabouts unknown|
The five defendants charged with immigration offenses in criminal complaints are:
|Name||Also Known As||Age||City|
|Antonio Galdamez-Figueroa||Pinochio||29||Columbus, Ohio|
|Juan Pablo Flores-Castro||Duende||29||Columbus, Ohio|
|Jorge Alberto Landaverde||Grenas||33||Columbus, Ohio|
|Juan Jose Alvarenga-Alberto||Sailen||27||Columbus, Ohio|
|Marvin Otero-Serrano||Vaca||31||Columbus, Ohio|
The FBI said they want to help victims of the gang and are asking them to come forward.
“This group used fear and violence to extort local residents out of their hard earned money,” said FBI special agent in charge Angela Byers. “While we are aware of a number of victims in this case, we realize there are probably additional victims in the community.”
If you are a victim of the alleged crimes, or have additional information about MS-13, you can call the FBI hotline at 614-849-1765. Callers can remain anonymous.Keep checking NBC4i.com for real-time updates on this story. To get alerts for breaking news, grab the free NBC4 News App for iPhone or Android. You can also sign up for email alerts.