A leader of the notorious transnational criminal gang MS-13 who was facing homicide charges for alleged murders committed in El Salvador in 2017 was arrested in Maryland after entering the United States illegally, according to authorities.
Mojica Aldana is currently being held by ICE while deportation proceedings are pending, officials said. The FBI and a special task force unit in Baltimore assisted with the arrest.
The agency noted that Mojica Aldana crossed the border and successfully entered the United States “without being inspected, admitted, or paroled” by immigration authorities.
“This is a significant arrest and a substantial hit to MS-13 in the Annapolis area,” said Lyle Boelens, the field office director of Baltimore’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) office.
“Not only is Mojica Aldana a high-ranking member of the gang, but he is also accused of numerous murders in El Salvador,” the director added. “ICE ERO Baltimore will continue to work tirelessly with our partner law enforcement agencies to keep the law-abiding citizens of Maryland safe from predators like Mojica Aldana.”
In mid-May, ERO Baltimore learned that Mojica Aldana was residing in the greater Annapolis area and had ties to the “Fulton Locos Salvatruchos (FLS)” clique, a subset of MS-13 that operates in Annapolis.
A background check conducted by the agency revealed that the National Civil Police of El Salvador issued an arrest warrant for Mojica Aldana on March 6, 2017, for homicide.
Upon further investigation, ICE obtained information that confirmed Mojica Aldana is a high-ranking member of MS-13 and a gang leader in the FLS clique.
On June 15, Mojica Aldana was issued a notice to appear, charging inadmissibility under Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as a noncitizen present in the United States without admission or parole, according to the release.
MS-13, also known as “La Mara Salvatrucha,” is an international criminal gang composed primarily of illegal immigrants or descendants from El Salvador and other Central American countries who fled the civil war in their home country.
It is widely viewed as one of America’s most violent criminal groups and is also considered a threat to the safety of communities in the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Branches of MS-13, also referred to as “cliques,” operate throughout multiple regions in Maryland, including Frederick County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County. The gang is also active in other parts of the country.
The gang’s motto is “kill, rape, control” and it routinely uses brutal assault methods on victims to instill fear and force compliance.