ATLANTA — Four Gwinnett members of the notorious MS-13 street gang have been convicted on various murder, attempted murder and conspiracy charges. Three are now facing mandatory life sentences.
Federal officials announced Tuesday the conclusion of a four-week trial and the conviction of Miguel “Joker” Alvarado-Linares, 24; Ernesto “Pink Panther” Escobar, 30; Dimas “Toro” Alfaro-Granados, 30; and Jairo “Flaco” Reyna-Ozuna, 28. Alfaro-Granados was listed as a Duluth resident. The others were residents of Norcross.
Evidence presented at trial detailed a series of violent crimes in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties, primarily in 2006 and 2007. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, members of the group sold cocaine as part of their gang activities and 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 desire to leave.
— The Oct. 2007 murder of 15-year-old Pablo Archila-Baires, a suspected rival gang member.
In addition to various firearms charges, Alvarado-Linares, Escobar and Alfaro-Granados were convicted of RICO conspiracy involving murder (up to a life sentence) and committing violent crime in aid of racketeering (mandatory life sentence). Reyna-Ozuna was convicted of RICO conspiracy, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years.
RICO is the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
“The defendants were leaders of MS-13, an international gang known for its gratuitous murder,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. “They spread fear throughout the community by killing suspected rival gang members and others who cross their path. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect our streets from turning into battlegrounds.”
All four men will be scheduled for sentencing at a later date.
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.