Six defendants, who range in age from 21 to 35, were indicted on November 12 for murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.
In a press release, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) states that five of the alleged murderers are citizens of El Salvador, where the sixth defendant is jailed.
“The FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Houston Police Department conducted the investigation,” the DOJ said.
The accused men are Franklin Trejo-Chavarria, age 23, Wilson Jose Ventura-Mejia, age 24, Jimmy Villalobos-Gomez, age 23, Angel Miguel Aguilar-Ochoa, age 35, Walter Antonio Chicas-Garcia, age 23, and Marlon Miranda-Moran, age 21. Trejo-Chavarria is the only one who is not currently in U.S. custody.
Court documents highlight the grim tactics of the notorious MS-13 gang.
“In order to protect power, reputation, and territory of MS-13, members and associates are required to use violence, threats of violence, and intimidation. These acts of violence often include murder and assault with deadly weapons, including machetes,” the indictment states.
“MS-13 recruits are indoctrinated into MS-13 rules, which are ruthlessly enforced. One prominent rule encourages MS-13 members and associates to confront, fight, and kill rival gang members, known as ‘chavalas.’ Mara 18 or 18th Street Gang are known rivals to MS-13 in the Southern District of Texas.”
In a similar matter, the DOJ also announced last week that they would seek the death penalty against an alleged drug trafficker and murder in New York State, also an MS-13 gang member.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.