Four illegal immigrants, who went on a year-long killing spree were charged this week in federal court, are members of the notorious MS-13 gang, according to police officers in Las Vegas.
President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have increasingly focused on prosecuting crimes committed by the violent gang, which is infamous for bringing drugs into the country through Mexico as well as grotesque displays of violence.
The latest court case involves four individuals who are both illegal immigrants and members of the gang, according to law enforcement officials.
The individuals were charged late on Tuesday in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a rival gang member found on federal property in southern Nevada.
The charged persons are all nationals of El Salvador, the origin of MS-13.
They are Josue Diaz-Orellana, 22, Luis Reyes-Castillo, also known as “Molesto,” 24, David Perez-Manchame, also known as “Herbi,” and “Walter Melendez,” 19, and Miguel Torres-Escobar, 20.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 28, 2018
Federal officials said in a statement that the men have been charged with assault with intent to commit murder, kidnapping, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Officials confirmed the men are all illegal immigrants.
Investigators said while investigating the death of rival gang member Arquimidez 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 cell phone records indicating that Diaz-Orellana’s cellphone was used in that area and later used in the area where the body was found.
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.”
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 hat with a bloodstain on it, and three 9mm handguns.
MS-13 has been tied to 10 murders in Clark County in the past year and investigators have linked the men to several other murders, including that of Izaak Towery.
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) March 27, 2018
Towery, 23, was last seen on Feb. 9 leaving his friend’s house in Las Vegas to walk home, which would take around 10 minutes, but he vanished.
Izaak’s body was found a few weeks later off of State Route 157, reported NBC.
“Unfortunately, the body had been out there for some time [and] was partially decomposing,” LVMPD Officer Larry Hadfield said. “We couldn’t identify him out at the scene based on anything he had on him.” Investigators were later able to determine the murder occurred at the scene and were able to link the defendants to the murder.
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.
Fox said the gang has cleaned up their look a little since the ’90s, often forgoing visible signs of membership to avoid police scrutiny.