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Gangsters sentenced in local crime spree

Photo by Madison Elkin

Photo by Madison Elkin

ATLANTA -- A federal judge sentenced five members of the widespread Hispanic street gang SUR-13 to prison Monday for their roles in a mayhem-filled weekend that included robberies in Gwinnett County.

The SUR-13, or Surenos-13, members embarked on an armed robbery spree across metro Atlanta and included at least seven carjackings or attempted carjackings, a small grocery store hold-up and several pedestrian robberies, federal officials said. Each defendant was sentenced to at least a dozen years in prison.

The adult defendants -- Pedro Barrera-Perez, 30, Irma Ovalles, 21, both of Stone Mountain, Gloria Galvan, 21, of Jonesboro, Jerry Arriaga, 22, of Austell, and Francisco Arrellan, 20, of Lithia Springs -- were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Julie E. Carnes on carjacking and firearms offenses.

They pleaded guilty to the charges Dec. 15. Sentences ranged from 13 years (Arrellano) to 24 years in prison (Barrera-Perez).

The weekend crime spree spanned Clayton, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton and Gwinnett counties, beginning on Dec. 12, 2008, when several defendants, wielding baseball bats and a gun, robbed a small Mexican grocery store using a stolen car, according to U.S. Attorney Sally Yates.

From there, the defendants beat a man and attempted to carjack his truck. Later, all defendants, bearing an AK-47 and other firearms, carjacked or attempted to carjack six other vehicles, Yates said.

During one attempted carjacking, a child was hit in the mouth with a baseball bat and, when the carjacking failed, the defendants fleeing the scene fired an AK-47 at the victimized family. The crime spree ended when, during a police chase, the defendants rolled a carjacked truck, killing one of the gangsters, a minor, Yates said.

The gang members who are minors were prosecuted for carjacking by the Fulton County District Attorney's Office.