Five members of the violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) international street gang are set to appear in court following charges of conspiracy and murder in aid of racketeering, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Wilson Jose Ventura-Mejia, 24; Jimmy Villalobos-Gomez, 23; Angel Miguel Aguilar-Ochoa, 35; Walter Antonio Chicas-Garcia, 23; and Marlon Miranda-Moran, 21, appeared for their arraignments and detention hearings via video before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam S. Sheldon. All are El Salvadorian nationals who illegally resided in Houston, Texas. Also charged is Franklin Trejo-Chavarria, 23, who is currently in custody serving a sentence in El Salvador for charges there.
A federal grand jury returned the indictment on November 12. All are charged with conspiracy and murder in aid of racketeering. The indictment alleges the defendants committed a 2018 murder in furtherance of the MS-13 enterprise.
The FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and Houston Police Department conducted the investigation. Trial Attorneys Julie A. Finocchiaro, Gerald Collins, and Matthew Hoff from the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Britni Cooper and John Michael Lewis are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of the Justice Department by visiting their website.