SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Building on an earlier investigation and indictment, a federal grand jury has returned charges against 13 alleged members of MS-13's notorious San Francisco-based 20th Street Clique in connection with three separate murders.
The press release issued on Monday stated that this now unsealed second superseding indictment handed down on November 4, 2021, includes new allegations against defendants previously indicted on February 18, 2020. It also adds charges against three new defendants.
"We will never stop seeking justice for murder," said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds in the issued press release on the indictments. "The new indictment reflects our commitment to a partnership of federal, state, and local law enforcement to protect our community against violence, especially from criminal street gangs such as MS-13."
Authorities said the new indictment was the result of a collaboration with the San Francisco Police Department, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and local law enforcement agencies.
According to the new indictment, the defendants were members of the transnational criminal organization MS-13 and describes how the gang's 20th Street clique in San Francisco relies on crime with its operations in terms of avoiding detection by law enforcement, initiating new recruits, enhancing the reputation of the gang and individual gang members, maintaining control of drug distribution channels, and intimidating people who might testify against or otherwise defy the gang.
The second superseding indictment builds on the February 18, 2020 indictment by describing additional violent crimes the defendants have allegedly committed, including three murders.
The indictment alleges that, on or about March 17, 2017, Elmer Rodriguez -- also known as "Gordo" -- ordered another gang member to kill a victim thought to be a member of a rival gang outside the Beauty Bar in the Mission District of San Francisco. The indictment also alleges that on May 25 of that year, Edwin Alvarado Amaya (aka "Muerte") murdered a fellow member of the 20th Street clique with a bladed weapon in Bernal Heights under the direction of Rodriguez because they believed the victim had violated gang rules.
The indictment also alleges that on February 13, 2018, five gang members including Abner Marroquin Alegria (also known as "Coche" or "Chapin"), Jose Maria Tercero Perez (aka "Delito"), Kevin Reyes Melendez (aka "Neutron"), Kevin Guatemala Zepeda (aka "Mision"), and Fernando Romero Bonilla (aka "Black") all played a culpable role in the murder, or its aftermath, of a suspected gang rival in the parking lot of the Gray Whale Cove trail in Pacifica.
The indictment alleges that Tercero Perez, Reyes Melendez, Guatemala Zepeda, and Romero Bonilla encountered the victim at the Mission Playground, which is at the heart of the gang's territory. Marroquin then drove Tercero Perez, Reyes Melendez, and the victim to the Gray Whale Cove parking lot, where Reyes Melendez and Tercero Perez murdered the victim with a bladed weapon and a 9mm firearm. Guatemala Zepeda and Romero Bonilla arrived on scene after the homicide to remove potentially incriminating evidence.
Finally, the second superseding indictment also alleges that on April 20, 2018, Tercero Perez, Reyes Melendez, and Brigido Josue Gonzales Sales (aka "Inocente" or "Kiko") attempted to murder a suspected gang rival near South Van Ness Avenue and Adair Street in the Mission District of San Francisco.
In total, the new indictment alleges 15 overt acts of violence, including murders, attempted murders, and assaults with a dangerous weapon. A full list of the charges the defendants are facing and the possible penalties can be found on the U.S. Department of Justice website.
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