MS-13 used gruesome tactics, fake Facebook profile in reign of terror, prosecutors say

A poster of defendants in custody is seen as law enforcement officials announce the unsealing of a federal racketeering indictment targeting Los Angeles-based members of MS-13 on July 16.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Twenty-two people allegedly affiliated with MS-13’s Fulton clique in the San Fernando Valley were indicted by a grand jury, most on racketeering charges that include nearly 200 alleged criminal acts over nine years, including killings that authorities called “medieval.”

Here is a breakdown of some of the key allegations in criminal charges released this week:

String of killings
Four people were killed in the Angeles National Forest by members of the Fulton clique wielding machetes, baseball bats and knives, the indictment alleges. Along with a slaying in the Malibu hills and another in Whitsett Fields Park in North Hollywood — the clique’s “stronghold,” prosecutors said — the six killings were committed by gang members hoping to gain entry into or advance within the clique’s ranks, according to the indictment.


Illegal entry into U.S. alleged
Of the 22 defendants, 19 had entered the United States illegally in the last three or four years, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. Many of their victims had recently come to the country as well, officials said. “These gang members sought out young victims in their teens and early 20s who were new to this country. Many had recently immigrated from El Salvador and Honduras. They were alone, looking to fit in with others from their native countries,” Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said.

Gruesome attacks
One victim, identified in court papers as “J.S.,” was believed by the Fulton clique to be a rival gang member who’d crossed out the clique’s graffiti. In March 2017, he was choked by at least four MS-13 affiliates at an entrance to the Los Angeles River in North Hollywood, driven into Angeles National Forest and killed with a machete, the indictment says. Angel Amadeo Guzman, a shot-caller for the Fulton clique, carved out his heart before flinging his body parts into a canyon, prosecutors allege. Edwin Isaac Mendez, who had taken pictures of the mutilated body, was given the nickname “Predator” after taking part in the killing, the indictment says. Guzman’s attorneys didn’t respond to requests for comment. It was unclear whether Mendez had retained an attorney.

Victim allegedly lured by Fake Facebook profile
Gerardo Alvarado and Bryan Alberto Ordones used a fake Facebook profile, purporting to belong to a girl, to lure another victim to Angeles National Forest, according to the indictment. The victim, identified as “G.B.,” was driven by Alvarado and Ordones into the forest, where three other MS-13 affiliates were waiting, the indictment says. After killing him with a machete, prosecutors allege, the gang removed his clothes and two pendants depicting Santa Muerte –- the saint of death in folklore. Alvarado later posed for pictures wearing one of the pendants, the indictment says.