Mysterious Murder of MS-13 Member Points to Influx of Gangs from Central America
For the last decade, the Mexican drug cartels and other organized crime gangs from Mexico appeared to be the biggest law enforcement and criminal justice problem in the United States. But within the past year, foreign criminal organizations and their crews of murderers, robbers, rapists, child sex purveyors and others are arriving from the countries south of Mexico and are increasing their presence throughout the U.S.
During the week of July 30, 2018, members of the FBI Evidence Response Team from the Cincinnati Field Office and the Indianapolis Field Office participated in a search for human remains in a wooded area of Grassy Creek Regional Park. The teams of forensic scientists and tachnicians located and recovered human remains on August 1 and August 2, 2018. It’s believed the FBI and local law enforcement received a tip that they would find the body of an MS-13 “gangbanger” in the vicinity in which agents searched.
DNA from the remains was examined by experts at the University of Indianapolis Human Identification Center. The DNA testing eliminated all other potential donors with the exception of Israel Anibal Mejia-Martinez.
Mr. Mejia-Martinez was believed to have been murdered approximately one year ago and buried in a shallow grave where the remains were discovered by the FBI Evidence Response Team. The remains were recovered in connection with an ongoing MS-13 investigation in the Southern District of Ohio.
The FBI is appreciative of all the agencies that assisted in these recovery and identification efforts, including the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the Marion County Coroner’s Office, Indy Parks and Recreation, the Indiana State Police Laboratory, the University of Indianapolis Human Identification Center, and Ohio Search and Recovery K9s.
Experts at the University of Indianapolis Human Identification Center examined DNA from the remains. The testing linked the remains to Israel Anibal Mejia-Martinez, the release said.
FBI officials told IndyStar they believe he was killed in the Indianapolis area and was a victim of an MS-13 killing. Details on how he died weren’t immediately available.
A federal indictment handed down earlier this year in Columbus charged 23 illegal aliens with charges including attempted murder, assault and weapons offenses.
MS-13, formally known as “La Mara Salvatrucha,” is believed to have a presence in Ohio. The violent, international gang is made up mostly of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, according to federal authorities.
Transnational Organized Crime
Those self-perpetuating associations of individuals who operate transnationally for the purpose of obtaining power, influence, and monetary and/or commercial gains, wholly or in part by illegal means, while protecting their activities through a pattern of corruption and/or violence, or while protecting their illegal activities through a transnational organizational structure and the exploitation of transnational commerce or communication mechanisms.
Significant Racketeering Activity
The FBI defines significant racketeering activities as those predicate criminal acts that are chargeable under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute. These are found in Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1961 (1) and include the following federal crimes:
- Sports Bribery
- Embezzlement of Union Funds
- Mail Fraud
- Wire Fraud
- Money Laundering
- Obstruction of Justice
- Murder for Hire
- Drug Trafficking
- Sexual Exploitation of Children
- Alien Smuggling
- Trafficking in Counterfeit Goods
- Theft from Interstate Shipment
- Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property
And the following state crimes:
The FBI remains focused on efforts to counter transnational criminal threats originating from the western hemisphere—in particular, in three critical areas of criminal activity known as the source zone (where the activity originates), the transit zone (the areas through which the activity passes), and the retail zone (the activity’s ultimate destination).
Source zone countries such as Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia account for all the coca harvested in the world, while Mexico is the largest producer of heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana in the western hemisphere.
The paramount crime issue in the source zone is the production of illicit narcotics, followed by money laundering, alien smuggling, illegal weapons trafficking, and human trafficking. The transnational criminal organizations enriched and empowered by these activities are responsible for much of the violence in this zone.
The transit zone is comprised of Mexico and Central American countries, primarily Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. The various Central American gangs and other regional groups are involved in migrant smuggling, human trafficking, drug smuggling, and the trafficking of firearms.
Due to escalating Mexican law enforcement attention against transnational criminal organizations in that country, Central American drug flow has increased dramatically in the last decade. The resulting displacement of criminal activity and attendant violence from Mexico to other countries in this zone underscores the need for coordinated regional strategies to address transnational criminal activities, so that one country’s success does not negatively impact another’s.
Also, the islands of the Caribbean, including Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, can be considered points of concern for similar reasons.
The retail zone comprises the United States and Canada. The U.S. provides the largest drug consumption market in the western hemisphere while Canada serves two roles—as both a destination and transit country for illicit activities including drug smuggling and global alien smuggling.
To combat the activities of Mexican, Central American, and South American transnational criminal organizations—including illicit finance and money laundering activities and the flow of illegal drugs—the FBI works side-by-side with its numerous domestic and international partners to infiltrate, disrupt, and dismantle these groups by targeting their leadership and using sensitive investigative and intelligence techniques in long-term, proactive investigations.