Three former leaders of a New Jersey branch of the violent international street gang “La Mara Salvatrucha” (aka MS-13), as well as eleven alleged members, are charged with racketeering and murder as part of a federal indictment.

U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman (Townsquare Media)

US Attorney Paul Fishman, along with other state and federal law enforcement agents, announced that of the 14 individuals to be charged, three are believe to be founding members of the “Plainfield Locos Salvatruchas” (PLS) chapter –or clique-of MS-13.
The alleged leaders are facing 26 count indictments for drug dealing as well as a string of murders of rival gang members and innocent bystanders.

“And the alleged acts are gruesome, including the murders of people they thought were rival gang members, and members of their own gang they thought were cooperating with law enforcement. And in order to cement and flaunt their status, they considered the sexual assault of unwilling girls, their purgative.” Fishman.

Santos Reyes-Villatoro, aka Mousey, allegedly founded the Plainfield clique in the 1990’s and served as its leader until 2009 when he was arrested for attempted murder. Two other believed PLS leaders, Mario Oliva, aka Zorro, and Roberto Contreras, aka Demonio, also served as the local chapters leaders.

MS-13 is composed largely of Salvadorans and Salvadoran immigrants, and began in the Los Angeles in the 1980’s, where members engaged in turf wars with other criminal organizations for control of drug distribution networks. Members of the gangs returned to El Salvador, where the gang flourished through central America, before returning to the United States. Law enforcement officials believe in addition to the west coast, MS-13 operates on the east coast and south west.

The investigation began in Plainfield, however Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park says once their crimes were believed to spread into neighboring Middlesex and Somerset Counties, cooperation from the FBI, Homeland Security, and the US Attorney’s Office was involved.

“Ultimately three of those leaders, and eleven other alleged members six of whom now face a possible death penalty sentence.” Fishman says the immigration status of the alleged members is mixed, however all will be prosecuted in the United States.

All but one of the defendants are currently in custody; Walter Yovany-Gomez remains at large. Those remaining in custody made an appearance in Newark federal court.