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Crime

Alleged members of MS-13 gang federally indicted, accused of four slayings in Baltimore City, County

A group of alleged members of the transnational MS-13 gang have been federally indicted in Maryland, with prosecutors accusing the men of the 2020 killings of four people in Baltimore and Baltimore County.

The indictment, filed last Wednesday, charges Wilson Arturo Constanza-Galdomez, Edis Omar Valenzuela-Rodriguez, Jonathan Pesquera-Puerto and Wualter Orellana-Hernandez with orchestrating a racketeering conspiracy responsible for the four homicides, two attempted killings and drug distribution from 2019 to 2020.

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Online court records do not list attorneys for the men in the federal case.

Short for La Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13 is a violent gang composed primarily of immigrants from El Salvador. In fact, some of the organization’s top commanders still call shots from prisons in the Central American country, federal prosecutors say. The gang first banded together in the U.S. in the 1980s in Los Angeles to protect against larger criminal enterprises run by Mexican immigrants.

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MS-13′s presence has expanded throughout the country, all the way to the East Coast.

In Maryland, law enforcement officials have said, the gang has been particularly active in Prince George’s, Montgomery, Frederick and Anne Arundel counties. Alleged MS-13 members also have been implicated by police and prosecutors in killings in the Baltimore area in the past two years. Some of those slayings are listed in the racketeering indictment as overt acts.

The homicides described in the indictment bear hallmarks of the gang’s brutality: The victims, who are not identified in the federal charging document, were lured to parks and other remote places and stabbed, slashed and bludgeoned with knives, machetes and other weapons.

The indictment says several other people who have yet to be identified by federal authorities were either involved in the killings or in the alleged racketeering conspiracy.

Prosecutors said the men charged in the killings reported the violence to gang leadership to gain clout and credibility; such acts are required as part of an initiation process, seen as a way to earn trust within the organization, according to the indictment.

The alleged spate of violence carried out by the indicted men began with an assault on a rival gang member on April 25, 2020, and lasted until June 6, 2020, when they forced a person, whom the gang previously “greenlit” to be killed, at knifepoint to go to Dundalk and stabbed him multiple times.

Around May 29 that year, all of the men charged lured a female they suspected of associating with rival gang members to a park in Cockeysville and stabbed her repeatedly, federal prosecutors said.

A pedestrian walking near Loch Raven Reservoir on May 29, 2020, discovered the body of 16-year-old Gabriella Alejandra Gonzales Arden, who had been reported missing from New York, on a stream bank. Five people, including the four now federally indicted, were charged that year in state court with killing the girl.

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Also listed by federal prosecutors as one of the organization’s overt acts was the fatal stabbing of a woman in June 2020 near the CSX Bayview Yard in East Baltimore.

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A railroad engineer found the body of 18-year-old Michelle Tenezaca along the tracks there. Officers found her 17-year-old sister nearby, clinging to life. Both had been stabbed dozens of times, police said at the time. Baltimore County police found the younger sister’s 17-year-old boyfriend stabbed in a tract of woods a couple of miles away near the waterfront in Turner Station.

Alleged MS-13 members had confronted the younger sister and her boyfriend along Eastern Avenue in the city and forced them onto a bus before taking them to different places and attacking them, according to state court records.

The men now federally indicted faced various charges in Baltimore County. Their cases no longer appear in online court records.

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said in an email Monday that his office dismissed charges against the men because they are being prosecuted federally.

In another instance outlined in the indictment, Valenzuela-Rodriguez, who was known by his gang moniker “Little Felon,” lured a male suspected of being a rival gang member to Patterson Park where Valenzuela-Rodriguez and Constanza-Galdomez, who went by the nickname ”Humilde,“ which means humble, stabbed him with a knife.

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Pesquera-Puerto, 21, was called “Truney,” while Orellana-Hernandez went by “Little Diablo,” or little devil. Pesquera-Puerto is 21 years old and Constanza-Galdomez is 23, according to online state court records, which no longer listed any cases for their federal co-defendants.

The federal indictment represents a continued push from law enforcement in Maryland and beyond to target MS-13. Several other gang members have been convicted in federal court.


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