Authorities arrest group of alleged MS-13 gang members in Maryland

MARYLAND (WJLA) -- A group of alleged MS-13 gang members from Maryland have been indicted on charges in a violent racketeering conspiracy that includes several murders.

The list of charges against the group are lengthy. The 12-count indictment alleges that, from prior to 2009 to February of 2014, the defendants were members and associates of MS-13, or La Mara Salvatrucha, who planned and committed murders, attempted murders, assaults and robberies in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Gang members also allegedly extorted high school students and "brothel operators," committed witness tampering and obstructed justice, among other crimes, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

The statement detailed several murders, mostly of individuals believed to be members of rival gangs such as the 18th Street gang, and the murder of one man believed to be a former MS-13 member who had testified in court about the crimes of active members.

According to the DOJ, MS-13 is a national and international gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, Md.

“Attacking and dismantling violent criminal enterprises like MS-13 is one of HSI’s highest enforcement priorities,” said William Winter, a Baltimore special agent in charge with Homeland Security Investigations.

“Our investigation revealed that MS-13 is an enterprise that participates in criminal acts, such as murder, attempted murder, violent assaults, witness intimidation and retaliation, and extortion," Winter continued. "HSI special agents will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to target MS-13 members and other transnational criminal street gangs that are a rising public safety threat in our communities.”

The defendants are:

- Jorge Enrique Moreno-Aguilar, aka “Flaco” and “Castigato,” age 20, of District Heights, Md.

- Juan Alberto Ortiz-Orellana, aka “Chele” and “Furia,” age 25, of District Heights;

- Melvin Marquez-Sanchez, aka “Demente,” age 19, formerly of New York;

- Carlos Beltran-Flores, aka “Joker,” age 22, of Hyattsville, Md.;

- Francisco Hernandez, aka “Chicle,” age 20, of Silver Spring, Md.;

- Wilmer Argueta, aka “Chengo” and “Happy,” age 21, of Hyattsville;

- Eric Antonio Mejia-Ramos, aka “Flaco,” age 20, of Hyattsville;

- Minor Perez-Chach, aka “Little Bad”

- Miguel Angel Manjivar, aka “Garra” and “Masflow,” age 21, of Hyattsville.

- Bryant Sacarias, age 23, of Hyattsville

The defendants face charges of anywhere from 20 years to life in prison.