SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Federal prosecutors announced the grand jury indictment of 17 alleged MS-13 gang members and their associates Friday for a reign of terror on San Francisco streets that included a series of vicious assaults.
U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson said the alleged gang members -- including Kevin Reyes Melendez, Elmer Rodriguez, Alexis Cruz Zepeda and Ronaldy Dominguez -- had been indicted for a litany of crimes -- racketeering, attempted murder and assault -- committed in and around the city's Mission District.
"San Francisco continues to suffer from gang violence and gang claims on our public spaces," Anderson said.
If convicted of all the federal counts they have been charged with Reyes Melendez, Rodriguez, Cruz Zepeda and Dominguez could all spend the rest of their lives in federal prison.
Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent In Charge Tatum King said the gang members were responsible for "committing the most heinous violent acts against their victims."
The indictment alleges 14 of the defendants conspired to engage in racketeering for the purpose of preserving the power, territory, reputation, and profits of the local MS-13 clique, known as MS-13 20th Street. It describes how MS-13 20th Street members bear tattoos, wear certain colors, and display gang signs to demonstrate allegiance to the clique.
Also described was how the gang seeks to maintain control of drug "turf" by relying on robbery, extortion, and other violent crimes, including stabbings and shootings.
Among the crimes described in the indictment was September 16, 2016 assault by Cruz Zepeda (who always was known as Zorro) and Reyes Melendez (also known as Neutron) where they brazenly fired shots at a suspected gang rival on a San Francisco street. Zepeda and Melendez then fled the scene in a vehicle allegedly driven by Dominguez (also known as "Smokey") leading to a high-speed chase, evading police by driving the wrong way down the Vermont Street off ramp of Highway 101. The victim suffered five gunshot entry and exit wounds but survived.
Similarly, on November 26, 2017, when MS-13 gang members attempted to extort cash and drugs from street dealers, Rodriguez (known as Gordo) shot a victim in the chest at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun.
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