LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Numerous reputed Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang members and associates are facing federal and state charges for their alleged roles in a drug trafficking network and extortion scheme, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In nine separate federal indictments, 14 people were charged in the case on Tuesday.
Nine of the 14 were arrested that same day during an FBI raid. Three were already in custody and a 33-year-old man — Elvis "Lil Comando" Molina—remains a fugitive, according to Bill Lewis, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office.
Five others were facing state charges.
"During the course of the investigation, we bought narcotics, we bought weapons, we conducted undercover operations to target this gang," the FBI's Timothy Delaney said.
Those charged in the federal indictments are:
- Thomas "Big Boy" Rodriguez, 35, of Los Angeles;
- Jose "Dreamer" Rodriguez, 34, of Los Angeles;
- Jorge "Spike" Orellana, 34, of Los Angeles;
- Anival "Pantera" Orellana, 35, of Los Angeles;
- Juan "Duende" Garcia, 32, of Los Angeles;
- Rogelio "Sky" Lemus, 42, of Los Angeles;
- Elvis "Lil Comando" Molina, 33, a fugitive, of Lynwood;
- Jose "Chema" Avelar, 38, of Los Angeles;
- Lazaro "Fino" Nunez, 28, of Los Angeles;
- Fabel "Spooky" Roque, 25, of Kansas City;
- Sandra Hernandez Chinchila, 40, of Valencia;
- Mario "Plucky" Morales;
- Luis "Lil' One" Vega, 29, and
- Edwin "Directo" Castillo, 31.
The people facing charges in state court are:
- Santos "Payaso" Ventura, 30, of Los Angeles;
- Jonathan "Lento" Chavez, 25, of Los Angeles;
- Thomas "Lil' Lonely" Linares, 30, of Los Angeles;
- Oscar Chavez, 28, of Los Angeles; and
- Ivan "Inocente" Castro, 21.
Also during Tuesday's operation, Candi Pascual, a defendant not charged in the indictments, was arrested and seven children were removed from homes by the Department of Children and Family Services, authorities said.
According to agents, the biggest "get" was Thomas "Big Boy" Rodriguez.
"We targeted the leadership, the shot-callers and the decision-makers of these cliques," Delaney said.
Rodriguez was the direct link between MS-13 and the prison gang Mexican Mafia.
"When you take down the leadership in any criminal enterprise, it creates a vacuum and then they're going to have to restructure it to be able to meet their demands and the demands that are set upon them by the Mexican Mafia," an undercover FBI agent told KCAL9's Dave Lopez.
For now, the Mexican Mafia, who controls much of the methamphetamine traffic from behind prison bars, must find new people on the street.
"I'm sure they're frustrated. And that is our goal—not only to frustrate them, but to prevent them from committing additional criminal activity," the undercover agent said.
Lopez reports that MS-13 operated in the city of Los Angeles, but much of the activity centered in and around an area known as Lafayette Park.
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