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Feds Charge 10 MS-13 Gang Members for Murders in Fresno and San Benito Counties
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 9 months ago on
July 27, 2023

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Federal prosecutors put the hammer on 10 MS-13 members and their associates, charging them with a RICO conspiracy and murder in aid of racketeering on Thursday.

The charges were announced in Fresno following extensive investigations by federal, state, and local authorities.

MS-13 member Martin Alfredo Leiva-Leiva, 43, of Richmond — was charged with murder in the deaths of three men and three women dating to 2016 and 2017.

“When reports surfaced that MS-13 had established a presence in the city of Mendota in the Central Valley, a multi-agency investigation was launched,” U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said in a news release.

“Today’s announcement is a direct result of the arrests in 2018 of 25 individuals on federal and state charges in connection with their Mara Salvatrucha (MS‑13) gang activities. One of the highest priorities of my office and of the federal law enforcement agencies we work with is to partner with the police departments, sheriff’s offices, and district attorneys in our district to reduce violent crime.”

In addition to Leiva-Leiva, the others indicted on Thursday were:

  • Juan Carlos Urias-Torres, 34, of Stockton;
  • Angel Antonio Diaz-Morales, 32, of Salinas;
  • Jose Rene Barrera-Martinez, 34; Luis Fausino Diaz-Pineda, 28; Angel Antonio Castro-Alfaro, 29, and Jose Joaquin Amaya-Orellana, 31, of Mendota;
  • Julio Cesar Recinos-Sorto, 28, of Leesburg, Virginia;
  • Jose Armando Torres-Garcia, 27, and Jose Santos Hernandez-Otero, 29, of El Salvador.

Murder Charges Timeline

Jan. 26, 2016 —Leiva-Leiva and Diaz-Morales are charged with the murder of a man in San Benito County.

July 13, 2016 — Leiva-Leiva and Urias-Torres are charged with the murder of a woman in Fresno County.

Oct. 30, 2016 —Leiva-Leiva, Hernandez-Otero, Torres-Garcia, Amaya-Orellana, and Recinos-Sorto are charged with murdering a woman and a man in Fresno County.

January 2017 — Leiva-Leiva, Barrera-Martinez, Diaz-Pineda, and Angel Antonio Castro-Alfaro are charged with murdering a man in Fresno County.

Dec. 13, 2017 — Leiva-Leiva and Urias-Torres are charged with the murder of a woman.

MS-13 in Fresno County

Since 2015, there have been more than 14 homicides allegedly carried out by the MS-13 in Mendota, according to the Department of Justice.

“These homicides are alleged to be related to MS-13 for a variety of reasons that include: the locations where the homicide victims were recovered (in and around Mendota), the association between the homicide victims and known MS-13 gang members, and the cause of death or condition the homicide victims have been found, including gruesome attacks caused by machetes, a weapon commonly used by MS‑13 gang members,” the DOJ stated in a news release.

Said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office: “The FBI is deeply committed to leveraging all of its assets, both foreign and domestic, in collaboration with our local, state, and federal partners to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that threaten the communities we serve. Every family deserves to live in a community free of fear and gang violence.

“We also need the public to come forward with information to help us all in that mission. Never suffer in silence; law enforcement can and will help ensure justice for victims and safer communities for all.”

 

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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