Feds: Six MS-13 members from Union City indicted on murder, conspiracy charges

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Six MS-13 members from Union City were indicted on murder, racketeering and conspiracy charges earlier this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito and many other law enforcement officials announced. 

A former leader of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS -13) gang, poses during a photo session at Comayagua jail in Honduras June 11, 2011. (Edgard Garrido/Courtesy Reuters).

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Juan Escalante-Melgar, aka “Humilde,” 28, the former leader of the Pinos Locos Salvatrucha clique; Elmer Cruz-Diaz, aka “Locote,” 29, the former leader of the Hudson Locotes Salvatrucha clique; Oscar Sanchez-Aguilar, aka “Snappy,” 22, a member of the Pinos clique; Jose Rivera-Robles, aka “Layo,” 33, a member of the Hudson Locotes clique; and Juan Garcia-Gomez, aka “Scooby,” 22, and Christian Linares-Rodriguez, aka “Donkey,” 38, were the six arrested, authorities said.

Each individual was charged with racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering based on a July 1st, 2015 murder, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, aiding and abetting a crime of violence and various other individual charges related to murder plots, officials said.

According to court documents, the defendants and other Hudson County MS-13 members and associates allegedly engaged in various forms of illegal racketeering activity on behalf of the gang between late 2014 and late 2015.

This included the execution of a suspected rival gang member in West New York on July 1st, 2015, which resulted in Garcia-Gomez, the shooter, becoming eligible to join MS-13.

In addition to the execution, prosecutors detail a failed May 2015 plot to kill a member of the rival 18th Street gang, who had been lured to New Jersey by a female MS-13 associate; a plot to kill a member of the Hudson Locotes clique, whom Salvadoran MS-13 leaders had ordered to be killed because the Hudson Locotes clique member was suspected of violating the gang’s core rule – assisting the authorities.

Other details include extorting the proprietor of a Hudson County restaurant by threatening harm if the proprietor did not pay money to the gang and conspiring to sell cocaine on behalf of the gang, authorities said.

“MS-13 is one of the most violent and vicious gangs in America today. The gang has more than 10,000 members following its barbaric motto of ‘kill, rape, and control’ across 40 states, and that threatens law-abiding Americans,” Sessions said in a statement.

“[This] indictment makes clear that the Trump Administration and this Department will be relentless in taking the fight to MS-13 with every lawful tool at our disposal. I want to thank the FBI, ICE, and DOJ Trial Attorneys for their hard work on this case, part of our aggressive effort to dismantle MS-13 and get its members off our streets for good.”

“Our office has been pursuing and successfully prosecuting the members of the violent transnational gang MS-13 for the crimes they have committed in New Jersey and elsewhere,” added Carpenito.

“The facts described in the indictment returned today make it clear why: This is a vicious organization with no regard for human life or for the laws of our country. We will continue to focus our resources to ensure that the people of New Jersey are made safe from this violence.”