Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021 | 6:30 p.m.
Four Las Vegas-based members of the violent MS-13 gang, who are accused of killing 10 people in the Las Vegas Valley during a yearlong spree, have been indicted on federal racketeering charges, the office of the U.S. attorney for the District of Nevada announced today.
The suspects, members of the “Parkview clique,” which was broken up by Metro Police and its federal partners in 2018, were charged on counts of murder and kidnapping in aid of racketeering, and weapons charges, officials said.
Luis Reynaldo “Molesto” Reyes-Castillo, 27; David Arturo “Herbi” Perez-Manchame, 22; Joel “Mumia” Vargas-Escobar, 25, and Alexander De Jesus Figueroa-Torres, 25.
All but Figueroa-Torres were arrested in Las Vegas in March 2018, while they were on their way to kill someone, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said at the time.
The trio initially was taken into federal custody on immigration-related charges, but subsequently charged with one slaying in 2019.
The racketeering indictment makes prosecution more widespread and reflects the 10 killings Metro had initially accused them of committing.
MS-13, short for Mara Salvatrucha, is a transnational gang founded in Los Angeles in the 1970s but based in El Salvador, its ”spiritual birthplace,” and other Central America locations, according to federal officials, who estimate it has 50,000 to 70,000 members.
The gang operates in regional “cliques” and has no centralized leadership. Las Vegas, Lombardo said in 2018, had about 50 documented members.
The bloody spree for the Las Vegas clique began on March 3, 2017, with the shooting death of Daniel Clark, officials said.
Richar Gaudio was killed in a drive-by shooting as he stood in a driveway in December of that year, officials said.
In January 2018, the body of Carlos Pachaca-Rodriguez was found in the Frenchman Mountain area, officials said. He’d been shot and stabbed multiple times.
Soon after, Arquimidez Sandoval-Martinez was found dead near Lake Mead National Park National Recreation Area. One moment he’d been partying downtown, and the next moment he had vanished, officials said.
The two victims knew each other, were associated with MS-13, and killed in a similar fashion, leading investigators to believe the slayings were connected, and the larger-scale investigation began.
Meanwhile, the killings continued.
On Feb. 2, 2018, Juan Carlos Estrada Raya was slain, officials said.
Four days later, Jose Hernandez and Ricardo Olivas were killed, and a third person was shot and wounded, officials said.
Mid-month, Izaak Towery and Rony Fuentes were kidnapped and slain; the same happened to Earl Ryan on March 1, 2018, officials said.
It took Metro homicide detectives and federal investigators three months to link the 10 slayings, solving them with the arrests.
Six of the bodies were found in remote areas of the valley, officials said, noting that not all the victims were associated with gangs.
“By significantly undermining MS-13’s ability to engage in violence in Las Vegas, the hard work and dedication of our law enforcement partners have made our communities safer,” said Nevada Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou in a news release. “Our office remains committed to protecting our neighborhoods against gang violence and other criminal activity by prosecuting dangerous transnational criminal organizations like MS-13.”
“The Criminal Division and our federal, state and local partners are committed to dismantling violent gangs like MS-13,” said U.S Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. in the release. “The violence alleged in the superseding indictment in this case is truly shocking. The murder spree carried out by MS-13 in Las Vegas clearly shows the danger posed by organized street gangs like MS-13.”
Reyes-Castillo and Perez-Manchame will appear in court Tuesday. They face life in prison if convicted, officials said. It wasn’t clear when the other two suspects would appear before the judge.