NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A federal grand jury in Nashville has indicted nine suspected members of the MS-13 gang, charging them with a racketeering conspiracy, including allegations of seven murders, kidnappings, assaults, robberies and a large scale drug distribution.
Acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart made the announcement Wednesday morning and said the indictment describes the organizational structure of MS-13 and the gang’s sub-unit, the Thompson Place Salvatrucha clique, which has operated in Nashville since at least 2014.
“MS-13 is one of the most violent, ruthless and cold blooded gangs to ever walk the face of the earth and we will be relentless in our efforts to root them out of this community,” Stewart said.
The indictment alleges numerous acts of drug distribution and firearms offenses, but also states that one or more of the gang members conspired with others to commit the following acts of violence:
- On April 6, 2016, murdered J.A. in Nashville by shooting him.
- On July 31, 2016, murdered L.R. in Nashville while attempting to murder R.R.
- On January 18, 2017, attempted to murder R.V. in Nashville by shooting him and attempted to murder H.V., L.A., and H.S. by shooting at them.
- On February 25, 2017, attempted to murder H.S. in Nashville by shooting at him.
- On May 21, 2017, murdered A.G. in Nashville by shooting him.
- On May 27, 2017, attempted to murder L.R.L in Nashville by shooting at him and murdered J.F. by shooting him.
- On June 1, 2017, an MS-13 gang member assaulted a deputized federal officer in Brentwood, Tennessee, while possessing a firearm and attempting to evade arrest.
- On June 17, 2017, brandished and discharged a firearm in Nashville during the kidnapping and assault of C.R.
- On July 25, 2017, kidnapped and assaulted X.A. in Nashville to prevent X.A. from cooperating with law enforcement.
- On September 24, 2017, murdered H.Z. in Nashville by shooting him and murdered Y.H. by shooting him to prevent him from becoming a witness to H.Z.’s murder.
- On September 24, 2017, lured A.L. to a meeting in Nashville and murdered him by shooting him and burned a car with his body in the trunk.
The indictment identified all nine suspected gang members who were indicted in connection with the crimes:
- Carlos Ochoa-Martinez, 31, aka “El Serio,” of Nashville
- Jason Sandoval, 35, aka “Bin Laden,” of Nashville
- Jorge Flores, 29, aka “Peluche,” of Nashville
- Kevin Tidwell, 28, aka “Miklo,” of Nashville
- Jose Pineda-Caceres, 22, aka “Demente,” of Honduras
- Franklin Hernandez, 22, aka “Happy,” of Honduras
- Luis Colindres, 24, aka “Listo,” of Honduras
- Gerson Serrano-Ramirez, 34, aka “Frijole,” of El Salvador
- Juan Melendez,” aka “Shaggy,” of Lebanon
All nine are in federal custody and, if convicted, they face decades of incarceration, including up to life in prison.
“Our Hispanic community in particular has suffered much by the actions of these gang members and we want to assure them that we will continue to hunt these gang member down and hold them accountable for their atrocious crimes and the fear they have instilled in this community,” Stewart said.
She added that MS-13 generates income by engaging in illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, and other crimes. Members steal vehicles and use them to carry out the crimes.
Money generated provides financial support to gang leaders, members and associates, including people jailed in the U.S. and in El Salvador, according to federal investigators.
Cooperation with law enforcement is strictly prohibited under MS-13’s rules, Stewart said. She added that it is understood within the gang that anyone who assists authorities will be punished by death.