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Gwinnett MS-13 members given life sentences

ATLANTA — Three Gwinnett members of the MS-13 street gang have now been given mandatory life sentences for their roles in various metro Atlanta murders.

A federal judge sentenced this week Ernesto “Pink Panther” Escobar, 30, of Norcross, giving him a life sentence to join co-defendants Miguel “Joker” Alvarado-Linares, 25, of Norcross, and Dimas “Toro” Alfaro-Granados, 30, of Duluth. Alvarado-Linares and Alfaro-Granados were sentenced earlier this year after being convicted on July 15.

All three men have been tied to a series of violent crimes in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties, primiarly in 2006 and 2007. They are believed to have played roles in at least three murders:

— The Oct. 2006 killing of a fellow MS-13 member suspected of cooperating with police.

— The Christmas Eve 2006 shooting of a 20-year-old driving along Ga. Highway 316, the result of one gang member’s wanting out.

— The Oct. 2007 murder of 15-year-old Pablo Archila-Baires, a suspected rival gang member.

All three men have also been charged with firearms, conspiracy and racketeering charges.

MS-13, which has origins in El Salvador and Honduras, is believed to have been active in the Atlanta area since at least 2005. Between that time and 2010, federal authorities arrested, charged or deported more than 75 of the gang’s Atlanta-area members.