Alleged MS-13 gang member in Salisbury arrested in national operation

Published 8:45 pm Thursday, July 16, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

shavonne.potts@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Two men who are members of multinational crime organization La Mara Salvatrucha, known as MS-13, were arrested in Salisbury and Charlotte this week, according to federal indictments.

Jose Moises Blanco, 30, was arrested at his Salisbury home. Oseas Gonzalez, 28, was arrested at his home in Charlotte. Both men appeared in a Charlotte courtroom Wednesday before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. Blanco and Gonzalez will be transferred to the Eastern District of New York in Long Island via U.S. Marshals and later arraigned. The two are charged with

The initial documents on the case were unsealed on Tuesday. And the 24-count indictment says that the two men along with six others — Carlos Alfaro, 23, of New York; Jose Jonathan Guevara-Castro, 25, formerly of New York and Maryland; Victor Lopez-Morales, 32, of New York; Ever Morales-Lopez, 26, of New York; David Sosa-Guevara, 28, of New York and Kevin Torres, 24, also of New York — were involved in acts of violence.

The men were charged with multiple racketeering offenses in connection with six murders, two attempted murders, a kidnapping conspiracy and narcotics trafficking conspiracies, as well as related charges including assault in aid of racketeering and firearms offenses.

The eight men are confirmed members and associates of MS-13, the court documents said.

On Wednesday in a related announcement, President Donald Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr on Wednesday said arrests had been made in Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), an initiative launched in August 2019 aimed at disrupting, dismantling and, ultimately, destroying MS-13. According to a statement issued by the Department of Justice, the arrests mark the first time an MS-13 member has been charged with terrorism-related offenses and that the U.S. Attorney General’s Office would seek the death penalty in the case. A news release said there was a coordinated multi-district takedown of the leadership of the Hollywood clique of MS-13.

The men include leaders of the clique or subgroup East Coast Hollywood Program. They were charged with racketeer-influenced and corrupt organization and violent crimes in aid of racketeering charges related to the six murders, two attempted murders, kidnapping, narcotics, and related firearms offenses.

Members of the MS-13 and their associates used and threatened to use physical violence against various individuals, including members of rival criminal organizations and MS-13 members who violated the “enterprise’s” rules, a news release said. Additionally, during the execution of court-authorized search and seizure warrants at the residences of both Blanco, of Salisbury, and Gonzalez, of Charlotte, law enforcement agents and officers recovered evidence that included machetes, firearms, ammunition, narcotics, and MS-13 related paraphernalia.

Torres, according to a statement from the Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration, was the leader of the Sailors Locos Salvatruchas Westside, or Sailors Clique. He was also in direct communication with high-ranking MS-13 leaders in El Salvador.

Members of the Sailors clique coordinated with members of the Hollywood clique to carry out the murders.

Torres and others allegedly were involved in the April 2016 murder of 19-year-old Oscar Acosta, a suspected member of the rival 18th Street Gang. MS-13 members lured Acosta to a wooded area near an elementary school in Brentwood, NY. The Brentwood resident, who came to the U.S. from El Salvador, was beaten until he was unconscious, his body dismembered with a machete and dumped in a shallow grave. According to the DEA, Torres allegedly ordered a “green light,” or authorization, to kill Acosta and assigned specific roles for others to plan and carry out the murder.

Sosa-Guevara, who is said to be the leader of a violent sect of MS 13 called the Long Island Hollywood Clique, was sentenced in February to 24 years to life in prison for murder and conspiracy in connection with the death of Angel Soler. It was reported that Sosa-Guevara ordered the murder of the teen, the DEA statement said.

Soler, 15, was a suspected 18th Street gang member, and Sosa-Guevara allegedly ordered his murder. Lopez-Morales and other MS-13 members allegedly carried out the murder, luring Soler to a wooded lot near Milburn Creek in Roosevelt, NY to smoke marijuana. The group attacked Soler with machetes and a pickaxe, and buried his body in a shallow grave. The following day, MS-13 members went back to lay cement over Soler’s body to better conceal it.

Sosa-Guevara allegedly reported to gang leaders in El Salvador and the United States.

Additionally, Sosa-Guevara, acting in concert with others, reportedly planned the murder of an alleged MS-13 member who was believed to have been disloyal to the gang and ordered the movement of weapons to Maryland for the purposes of that murder.

The group of men are also accused of the 2016 murder of a Kerin Pineda, another teen who was said to have been a member of the 18th Street Gang.

Torres allegedly ordered the killing of Pineda, according to the DEA statement. Members of the Sailors clique coordinated with members of the Hollywood clique and devised the plan. In May 2016, MS-13 members, armed with machetes, lured Pineda to a secluded wooded area near the Merrick-Freeport border in New York. Torres, Lopez-Morales and Sosa-Guevara allegedly acted as lookouts for police and stayed in contact with the MS-13 members in the woods while they waited for Pineda. When Pineda arrived, he was surrounded and violently attacked by the MS-13 members.

Pineda’s body was mutilated with a machete and he was found a year after being reported missing.

The men allegedly attempted to kill two others in 2016. Those men are listed in indictments only as John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2. During an attack, John Doe No. 1, was shot in the leg. Another victim, identified in the indictment as John Doe No. 2, was shot and slashed in the head, face and arms. John Doe No. 2 sustained disfiguring injuries, but survived the attack.

According to the court documents, the men are responsible for the 2018 machete slaying of 19-year-old Josue Amaya-Leonor, who was lured to a secluded wooded area to smoke marijuana. Once there, he was allegedly surrounded by the machete-wielding MS-13 members and was struck repeatedly and killed.

Amaya-Leonor of Roosevelt, New York, was lured to a secluded wooded area deep into the Roosevelt Preserve to smoke marijuana. Once there, he was allegedly surrounded by the machete-wielding MS-13 members where he was struck repeatedly and killed. The MS-13 members dug a hole and buried Amaya-Leonor’s body, which was not found until May 2018.

Javier Castillo, 15, of Central Islip, New York, was found dead in 2016, a year after he was reported missing by his family. He, too was lured to a secluded area in Cow Meadow Park in Freeport, New York, under the guise of smoking marijuana and killed by MS-13 members wielding machetes. He allegedly was killed for his perceived association with the 18th Street Gang.

Roosevelt, New York resident Carlos Ventura-Zelaya, 24 was shot to death in 2016 outside a Roosevelt, New York, home. He had been marked for death by the MS-13 because of his suspected membership in the rival 18th Street Gang.

In 2018, Angel Soler, 17, was found dead a year after his mother reported him missing. Lopez-Morales and other MS-13 members allegedly carried out the murder, luring Soler to a wooded lot near Milburn Creek in Roosevelt to smoke marijuana. The group attacked Soler with machetes and a pickaxe, and buried his body in a shallow grave. The following day, MS-13 members went back to lay cement over Soler’s body to better conceal it.

His body was also dismembered with a machete.

The documents said in 2017 Lopez-Morales and Sosa-Guevara, together with others did attempt to kidnap a man whose identity is only listed as John Doe No. 3.

Lopez-Morales and the other gang members’ alleged plan to kidnap John Doe No. 3 was foiled by law enforcement, who had been intercepting the calls arranging the attack. The attack, which occurred in front of a house in Brentwood in July 2016.

All of the men allegedly conspired to distribute marijuana and cocaine. Charges against various members of the Sailors clique for conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana and members of the Hollywood clique with conspiring to distribute marijuana stem from the MS-13 cliques’ alleged street-level sales of cocaine and marijuana on Long Island, New York, the proceeds of which were used to help finance the MS-13’s criminal operations.

While Alfaro, Lopez-Morales, Morales-Lopez and Sosa-Guevara are in state custody, Torres is in federal custody, Guevara-Castro remains at large.

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