MS-13 thugs were convicted in New Jersey on Wednesday for a litany of federal crimes including machete attacks, execution style murders, and racketeering.
U.S. Attorney for the New Jersey District Paul J. Fishman went after MS-13 with everything he had in a trial that had been years in the making. Back in September 2013, Fishman charged 14 MS-13 thugs in a wide ranging, 26-count indictment against the Plainfield Locos Salvatruchas (PLS) clique of MS-13 in Plainfield, New Jersey.
The crimes the PLS clique members are accused of engaging in include four murders, robbery, conspiracy to attempt several murders, as well as extortion. Eight members of the PLS, members are known as Maras, were convicted in the federal case. Five other Maras from the 2013 indictment pleaded guilty, and one remains at large– Walter Yovany-Gomez. Among those convicted is Santos “Mousey” Reyes-Villatoro, the founder of the PLS clique.
Two of the now convicted Maras –Roberto Contreras, 27; and Mario Oliva, 29– sexually forced themselves on two teenage girls to “establish their dominance in [the] gang,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office indictment. Another, Esau “Panda” Ramirez, 25, called up a fellow gang member while he was in a Union County jail to try ordering a hit on three witnesses that were going to cause trouble for the gang.
The trial against the thugs took 16 weeks and a jury deliberated for four days before reaching their verdict. MS-13 is the only Latin American street gang to be declared a transnational criminal organization (TCO) by the U.S. Treasury Department. The gang got its start in 1980s in Los Angeles and was founded by many young Central American migrants, mostly from war-torn El Salvador, where the gang continues to wreak havoc.
TheDCNF reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the New Jersey District and asked about the legal status of the Maras. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the New Jersey District told TheDCNF that the convicted MS-13 members are, “All are in the U.S. illegally except for Hugo Palencia, who is a lawful permanent resident.”