A federal judge in San Francisco today meted out sentences of life in prison to each of five MS-13 gang members who were convicted in August of racketeering conspiracy and murder conspiracy.
The five men, members of an MS-13 branch centered at 20th and Mission streets in San Francisco, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge William Alsup.
Alsup presided over their five-month jury trial, which ended in the convictions on Aug. 30.
In addition to the conspiracy counts, two were also found guilty of carrying out a total of three racketeering-related murders on San Francisco streets in 2008.
Erick Lopez, 23, whose gang name was “Spooky,” was convicted of gunning down Ernad Joldic, 21, of Daly City, and Phillip Ng, 24, of San Francisco, in the city’s Excelsior District early on March 29, 2008.
The two victims were not gang members. Prosecutors said Lopez was seeking to retaliate for the shooting of an MS-13 member the previous evening and mistook the men, who were wearing red, for rival Nortenos.
Jonathan Cruz-Ramirez, 22, nicknamed “Soldado,” was convicted of murdering Armando Estrada, 31, of Rodeo, at 20th and Mission Streets shortly after noon on July 11, 2008.
Estrada sold fake identification documents and was targeted for failing to pay an extortion “tax” to the gang, prosecutors said.
Lopez and Cruz-Ramirez faced mandatory life sentences for the murders.
The others sentenced today were Moris Flores, 22, known as “Slow”;
Marvin Carcamo, 31, nicknamed “Psycho”; and Angel Guevara, 30, known as “Peloncito.”
They faced possible maximum sentences of life in prison for the racketeering conspiracy charge. Their defense lawyers asked for lower sentences of several decades in custody, but Alsup imposed the maximum life terms. There is no parole from federal sentences.
The international MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, gang originated in El Salvador and Southern California. Prosecutors say members engage in murder, assault, drug dealing, theft and extortion and that they gain status by attacking and killing rival gang members.
The five men sentenced today were among 34 MS-13 members and associates who were charged in four successive versions of a grand jury indictment in 2008 and 2009.
Of those, 31 have pleaded guilty or been convicted of various charges. Two were acquitted and the remaining defendant, Manuel Franco, is scheduled to go on trial in Alsup’s court on Jan. 4.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News