10 MS-13 gang members indicted on murder, racketeering charges in Galveston

10 MS-13 gang members were indicted in Galveston on murder and racketeering charges, the U.S. District Attorney's Office announced Thursday. 

According to a press release from the U.S. DOJ, the indictment alleges that 10 of the gang members were involved in a racketeering conspiracy, which involved murder, extortion, and drug trafficking starting around 2015. 

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Authorities identified eight of the gang members as Houston residents: Walter Antonio Chicas-Arcia, aka Walter, aka Mejia, 25; Luis Ernesto Carbajal-Peraza aka Destino, aka Chele, 30; Carlos Alexi Garcia-Gongora, aka Garcia, aka Lil Maligno, 24; Wilson Jose Ventura-Mejia, aka Discreto, aka Disco, 26; Wilman Rivas-Guido, aka Inquieto, 26; Carlos Elias Herniquez-Torres aka Kalin, 22; and Angel Miguel Aguilar-Ochoa, aka Darki, 37. 

Meanwhile, the other two members were living in El Salvador:  Franklin Trejo-Chavarria aka Impulsivo, 25; Julio Vigil-Lopez aka Hades, 25. 

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Over the past several years, officials found several homicides and attempted murders linked to MS-13's cliques and associates. Additionally, the investigation revealed how the acts were to maintain the gang's control, retaliate against rival gangs and seek retribution against those who might have cooperated with law enforcement. 

"The charges in this case reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to dismantling and disrupting MS-13, a criminal organization that sows violence, terror, and fear in communities across the country," Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a press statement. "We will continue to work closely alongside our law enforcement partners to root out criminal organizations wherever they exist and break the cycles of violence that they perpetuate."

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In fact, seven murders alleged in the indictment span from 2015 through 2018, with a range of victims. Most of the murders were described by investigators as "brutal in nature" and included "multiple acts of mutilation and dismemberment with machetes." 

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"This indictment is a testament to the strong partnerships we have with our federal and local agencies to help bring violent gang offenders to justice," Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said in a press statement. "We thank our partners and look forward to working together to help keep our communities safe."

"As demonstrated by the allegations in the indictment, transnational criminal street gangs like MS-13 are a plague upon society that must be rooted out in the interest of public safety and national security," added Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston. "HSI Houston is committed to continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring an end to the relentless terror and violence that they reign on the innocent and law-abiding members of our communities."