Federal authorities accused 11 people Wednesday of orchestrating a two-year run of killings, stabbings and beatings across the Washington area as members of a violent Salvadoran gang.
A 35-count federal indictment unsealed Wednesday against 10 men and one women offers a glimpse at the ruthless tactics of local members of La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
Controlled by ringleaders or "big homies" imprisoned in El Salvador or at large in Central America or Mexico, MS-13 "cliques" with such names as the Sailors, Normandy, Peajes, Uniones and Fultons collaborate across the District, Maryland and Virginia, the indictment says.
Working through a partnership they call "La Hermandad," or "the Brotherhood," clique capos known as "La Palabra" - "shot callers" - allegedly "green-lighted" the killing of rivals, brutalizing of police informants, extortion of business people, and drug dealing in competition with the 18th Street, STC, Mara and other locally active Latino gangs.
Victims included a 14-year-old boy, Giovanni Sanchez, who was stabbed to death and left in the street in Columbia Heights in Northwest Washington in December 2008; and Felipe Leonardo Enriquez, 25, who was fatally shot and dumped on sewage utility property near the Montgomery and Howard county line March 31, prosecutors charged.
"This indictment is our most recent step in a targeted, sustained effort to dismantle MS-13 and other violent gangs that threaten our neighborhoods," U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said in a statement with U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the criminal division and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton.
The indictment laid out a variety of racketeering offenses against defendants, at least five of whom were previously charged.
Attorneys for Carlos "Cangri" Silva, 28, of Takoma Park; Omar "Flaco" Aguilar, 21, and Wilfredo "Majestic" Mejia, 25, both of Silver Spring; and Henry "Flaco" Sarba, address unknown, would not comment. The men were indicted in September in connection with a December 2009 home invasion in the District.
Hector "Littleman" Diaz-Flores, 20, of the District, could face the federal death penalty for allegedly killing Sanchez. In 2009, he was indicted on a second-degree murder charge and others in D.C. Superior Court.
Of the other defendants, the new indictment said, for the first time, that Enriquez's killing was committed by Manuel "Cholo" Saravia, 31, of Silver Spring; Jose Martinez-Amaya - also known as Crimen or Mecri, 24, of Brentwood; and Noe "Gallo" Machado-Erazo, 28, of Wheaton.
All defendants could face maximum terms of life in prison, and 10 are in in custody, prosecutors said.