13 MS-13 gang members and associates arrested in LA

Gang Crackdown

Michael Johnson/AP

This handout photo provided by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, taken June 23, 2008 in Washington, shows an example of a tattoo of the gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The FBI arrested 13 members and associates of the MS-13 gang Tuesday.

The FBI arrested 13 members and associates of the MS-13 gang Tuesday as part of an investigation into the gang's alleged drug trafficking and extortion scheme activities.

Most of the arrests happened in Los Angeles. One defendant was arrested in Kansas City and one--Elvis Molina, 33, of Lynwood--is considered a fugitive, according to a FBI release. 

FBI Spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told KPCC a total of 20 people face charges.

"Fourteen of the defendants are charged with federal violations involving a methamphetamine distribution network in Los Angeles," Eimiller said. "And six of them are being charged with state extortion violations being prosecuted by the District Attorney." 

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services also removed seven children from homes of the defendants Tuesday.

The MS- 13 gang — or  Mara Salvatrucha — is notorious for its brutal crimes in cities across the U.S., Central America and Mexico. The gang is known to have thousands of members.

Defendants arrested Tuesday will appear in United States District Court Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles or in the federal district in which they were arrested, according to the FBI.

If convicted of the charges, Eimiller told KPCC defendants face sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison.

Those charged in the federal indictments are listed below:
Thomas Rodriguez, aka “Big Boy,” 35, Los Angeles, Arrested
Jose Rodriguez, aka “Dreamer,” 34, Los Angeles, Arrested
Jorge Orellana, aka “Spike,” 34, Los Angeles, Arrested
Anival Orellana, aka “Pantera,” 35, Los Angeles, Arrested
Juan Garcia, aka “Duende,” 32, Los Angeles, Arrested
Rogelio Lemus, aka “Sky,” 42, Los Angeles, Arrested
Elvis Molina, aka “Lil Comando,” 33, Lynwood, Fugitive
Jose Avelar, aka “Chema,” 38, Los Angeles, Arrested
Lazaro Nunez, aka “Fino,” 28, Los Angeles, Arrested
Fabel Roque, aka “Spooky,” 25, Kansas City, Arrested
Sandra Hernandez Chinchila, 40, Valencia, Arrested
Mario Morales, aka “Plucky,” already in custody on unrelated charges
Luis Vega, aka “Lil One,” 29, already in custody on unrelated charges
Edwin Castillo, aka “Directo,” 31, already in custody on unrelated charges

State defendants are listed below:
Santos Ventura, aka “Payaso,” 30, Los Angeles
Jonathan Chavez, aka “Lento,” 25, Los Angeles
Thomas Linares, aka “Lil Lonely,” 30, Los Angeles
Oscar Chavez, 28, Los Angeles
Ivan Castro, aka Inocente,” 21, already in custody

Candi Pascual, a defendant not charged in the indictments but linked to the case, was taken into custody Tuesday morning based on a state bench warrant.

Jessica Hamlin contributed to this story. 

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