US

Three MS-13 Gang Members Indicted in Connection With Murder: Prosecutors

By Zachary Stieber

A federal grand jury indicted three alleged MS-13 gang members for their involvement in a kidnapping and murder.

Jose Luis Reynaldo Reyes-Castillo, known as Molesto, 25; Miguel Torres-Escobar, known as Chamilo, 21; and David Arturo Perez-Manchame, known as Walter Melendez and Herbi, were charged with murder in aid of racketeering, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and causing death through the use of a firearm, the Department of Justice said.

Reyes-Castillo and Torres-Escobar are El Salvadoran nationals while the other defendant is from Honduras. All three are illegal aliens.

According to the indictment (pdf), the three men are members of the MS-13 Parkview clique, which operated in Las Vegas.

“MS-13 members are required to commit crimes, including acts of violence, to maintain membership and discipline within the group,” prosecutors said. The gang, also known as Mara Salva 13, originated in Los Angeles but spread to El Salvador as members were deported from the United States. The transnational criminal organization is believed to have more than 10,000 members and regularly conducts gang activities in at least 10 states and across Central America and Mexico.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders briefing about MS-13.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stands in front of gang-related photos from the MS-13 gang during a daily briefing at the White House July 27, 2017. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The three illegal aliens kidnapped Arquimidez Sandoval-Martinez on Jan. 21, 2018, before murdering him, according to the indictment.

Federal officials arrested the defendants, in addition to 22-year-old Josue Diaz-Orellana, in March 2018 on charges of assault with intent to commit murder, kidnapping, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. No mugshots of the men have been made public.

Investigators said while investigating the death of rival gang member Sandavol-Martinez, they found fired cartridges marked “Blazer” and “FC.”

Officers learned that he was last seen on Jan. 21 at a club in Las Vegas. Police also obtained cellphone records indicating that Diaz-Orellana’s cellphone was used in that area and later used in the area where the body was found.

MS-13-weapons-600x398
Weapons used by alleged MS-13 gang members named in an 85-count indictment, including eight attempted murders, in Nassau County, Long Island, N.Y., on June 15, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Two of the men provided investigators with details of what happened that night, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

They said Perez-Manchame and the victim were exchanging angry looks, likely because of a possible relationship between Perez-Manchame’s girlfriend and the victim. The men persuaded Sandoval-Martinez to ride in a truck with them to the desert, telling him it would be a good place to see the lights of the city.

“After arriving at a remote area in the desert, the men removed Sandoval-Martinez from the vehicle and walked him away from the roadway,” the complaint states.

“Reyes-Castillo forced Sandoval-Martinez to kneel and take off his shirt. After he removed his shirt, the men noticed a tattoo on his shoulder that they believed signified his association with their rival gang, 18th Street.”

MS-13 Gang member
An MS-13 gang member in detention in San Miguel, El Salvador, on March 4, 2013. (Marvin RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images)

Reyes-Castillo stabbed the victim while holding a gun to his head and fired when he tried to run. The four men then chopped his body up.

On March 2, officers stopped a vehicle with the four men in it and discovered a large butcher knife, a baseball cap with a bloodstain on it, and three 9mm handguns.

A gang expert told the Review-Journal that gang members almost never randomly target people. “It would be extremely rare for MS-13 to be targeting general community members,” said Andrew Fox an assistant professor of criminology specializing in street gangs at California State University, Fresno.

Reyes-Castillo, Torres-Escobar, and Perez-Manchame are scheduled to be arraigned on May 21.