17 Alleged Members Of MS-13 In SF Charged Federally With Attempted Murder, Assault, And Weapons Charges

SAN FRANCISCO- A federal grand jury indicted 17 Bay Area residents for a broad range of racketeering crimes including RICO conspiracy, attempted murder, and assault, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Tatum King.  The Superseding Indictment handed down February 18, 2020 and unsealed today catalogues a litany of crimes allegedly perpetrated in and around the Mission District of San Francisco.

“San Francisco continues to suffer from gang violence and gang claims on our public spaces,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson.  “I am grateful to the men and women of Homeland Security Investigations and the San Francisco Police Department for their professionalism and teamwork. San Francisco is safer when we all work together.  We will oppose gang activity with professional law enforcement and vigorous prosecutions.”

“MS-13 gang members prey upon the communities they live in, committing the most heinous violent acts against their victims. The streets of San Francisco and the surrounding communities are safer when criminal gang members are held to account for their crimes,” said Special Agent In Charge King. “I’m proud of our agents’ exhaustive investigative work, together with the San Francisco Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in bringing these subjects to justice. We also appreciate the law enforcement assistance with yesterday’s successful criminal arrests provided by the South San Francisco Police Department, the Mountain View Police Department and the San Mateo County Gang Intelligence Unit.”

According to the superseding indictment, the defendants were members of the transnational criminal organization MS-13.  MS-13 operates in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and at least 20 states in the United States.  The superseding indictment describes how the 20th Street clique of MS-13 relies on crime to operate, including to avoid detection by law enforcement, to initiate new recruits, to enhance the reputation of the gang and individual gang members, to maintain control of drug distribution channels, and to intimidate people who might testify against or otherwise defy the gang.

In this case, the superseding indictment alleges 14 of the defendants conspired to engage in racketeering for the purpose of preserving the power, territory, reputation, and profits of the local MS-13 clique, known as MS-13 20th Street.  The superseding indictment describes how MS-13 20th Street members bear tattoos, wear certain colors, and display gang signs to demonstrate allegiance to the clique.  Also described in the superseding indictment is how the gang seeks to maintain control of drug “turf” by relying on robbery, extortion, and other violent crimes, including stabbings and shootings.

Listed in the superseding indictment are dates on which particular defendants allegedly committed crimes to further the purposes of the gang.  For example, the superseding indictment alleges that, on September 16, 2016, defendants Alexis Cruz Zepeda, a/k/a Zorro, and Kevin Reyes Melendez, a/k/a Neutron, fired shots at a suspected gang rival.  Cruz Zepeda and Reyes Melendez then fled the scene in a vehicle allegedly driven by Ronaldy Dominguez, a/k/a “Smokey,” who, after a high-speed chase, evaded police by driving the wrong way down the Vermont Street off ramp of Highway 101.  The victim suffered five gunshot entry and exit wounds but survived.  Similarly, the superseding indictment alleges that, on November 26, 2017, when MS-13 gang members attempted to extort cash and drugs from street dealers, defendant Elmer Rodriguez, a/k/a Gordo, shot a victim in the chest at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun.  Documents filed by the government in the case include a memorandum arguing that the violent nature of the alleged crimes should be considered when the court makes decisions regarding pre-trial detention.  The government’s filings include surveillance footage allegedly depicting an attack described in paragraph 26 of the superseding indictment.  The video of the incident can be viewed at the following link:


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