A federal jury delivered guilty verdicts Tuesday against four members of the street gang “La Mara Salvatrucha,” or “MS-13,” who were on trial for participating in a racketeering conspiracy.
The convictions stem from the multiple acts of violence committed by the defendants for the benefit of the criminal enterprise, including murder and attempted murder.
Miguel Zelaya, 20, of Charlotte, Luis Ordonez-Vega, 36, of Concord, N.C., Jorge Sosa, 24, of Charlotte, and William Gavidia, 23, of Kannapolis, N.C. were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity.
Zelaya was also convicted of murder in aid of racketeering and use or carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in the death of Jose Orlando Ibarra.
Ordonez-Vega was also convicted of murder in aid of racketeering and use or carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in the death of Noel Navarro Hernandez.
Sosa was convicted of attempted murder in aid of racketeering and use or carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, that being attempted murder in aid of racketeering.
According to filed court documents, witness testimony, trial evidence and statements
made in court:
From at least in or about 2009 to about May 2015, the four defendants along with 33 others named in a federal indictment, were members of the MS-13 gang, a criminal organization with over 6,000 members in the United States and 30,000 members internationally.
MS-13 originated in Los Angeles, California, and has spread to states across the country, including in North Carolina. T
he gang’s members are mostly immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador and other Central and Latin American countries. In North Carolina, some of the active MS-13 members are divided into different groups, or “cliques,” which include the “Trece Locos Salvatrucha,” the “Hollywood Locos Salvatrucha,” the “Charlotte Locotes Salvatrucha,” the “Centrales Locos Salvatrucha,” and the “Coronados Little Cycos Salvatrucha,” among others.
The different cliques work together to carry out criminal acts, to protect the interests of the criminal enterprise, and to assist each other in avoiding law enforcement detection.
Members of MS-13 in Charlotte participated in multiple meetings at various times to discuss gang-related matters and to plan the commission of future crimes for the benefit of the gang. They were also responsible for numerous criminal acts including murder and attempted murder.
Zelaya, a/k/a “Most Wanted” and “Ne Ne”, is a member of the “Coronados Little Cycos Salvatrucha” clique. On December 18, 2013, Zelaya shot and killed Jose Orlando Ibarra, an associate of a rival gang, “The Latin Kings.”
According to trial evidence and testimony, Zelaya admitted to law enforcement that he shot Jose Ibarra because Ibarra owed him money for a gun and because Ibarra and his brother, a Latin King member, had been looking for one of Zelaya’s “homies” with a shotgun.
Ordonez-Vega, a/k/a “Big Boy,” is a self-admitted member of MS-13 from Nassau County, New York, and a member of the “Brentwood Locos Salvatrucha” clique.
Ordonez-Vega has “MS” tattooed across his stomach and “La Mara Salvatrucha” tattooed across his chest. On June 6, 2013, Ordonez-Vega shot and killed Noel Navarro Hernandez in a strip mall parking lot in Charlotte. Evidence presented at trial showed that Ordonez-Vega and other MS-13 members targeted Navarro because they believed that Navarro was a rival gang member because of the way he talked, wore red, and his haircut.
Sosa, a/k/a “Koki” and “Loco” is a member of the “Charlotte Locotes Salvatrucha” clique. According to trial evidence, Sosa has been involved in multiple gang-related incidents on numerous occasions.
For example, on February 1, 2008, Sosa flashed MS-13 gang hand signs at a rival gang member’s mother and pointed a handgun at her while they were stopped in traffic.
On October 15, 2011, Sosa warned a manwho asked him to leave a party that he would return with other MS-13 gang members to shoot the victim. Also, on July 5, 2013, Sosa and other MS-13 members tried to break into a vehicle then attempted to run over with a car the officers who tried to arrest them.
And on June 30, 2013, Sosa was involved in a gang-related shooting, when he and another person followed their victims in a neighborhood in Charlotte and opened fire with a high caliber rifle.