Three former leaders of a New Jersey branch of the violent international street gang “La Mara Salvatrucha” – including its founding member – were charged along with 11 other reputed gang members with racketeering, murder and related crimes in a sweeping federal indictment unsealed in Newark today.
Santos Reyes-Villatoro, a/k/a “Mousey,” founded the “Plainfield Locos Salvatruchas” (PLS) – a subset, or “clique” – of La Mara Salvatrucha in the 1990s and served as its leader until his arrest in 2009 for attempted murder. Also known as MS-13, La Mara Salvatrucha is composed largely of Salvadorans and Salvadoran immigrants.
Two other former leaders of the local PLS clique, Mario Oliva, a/k/a “Zorro,” and Roberto Contreras, a/k/a “Demonio,” are also charged in the 26-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury.
“The indictment describes an extraordinarily dangerous criminal enterprise whose entire reason for being revolves around imposing its leaders’ will through violence and intimidation,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said. “They have inflicted on the people of Plainfield and surrounding areas a reign of terror, backed up by physical assaults and murders. No community should have to endure such lawlessness.”
“The brazenness of the conduct charged in today’s indictment is deeply troubling,” Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park added.
Park said the defendants “showed no reluctance to react to perceived or real slights with immediate and reckless violence – and when they were caught, they plotted to retaliate against those who they believed to be responsible.”
The federal indictment, which charges members of PLS with a racketeering conspiracy, four murders, multiple conspiracies to commit murder, extortion, robbery and a variety of other crimes, is the culmination of a three-year investigation that started in the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and expanded to include other local, state and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. READ MORE ….