Three alleged members of a violent international street gang appeared in federal court Tuesday morning and agreed to waive their detention, meaning they will be held without bail pending their trial.
They are among the 56 people charged by federal prosecutors in a sweeping racketeering indictment, accusing the alleged members of the MS-13 gang of several violent crimes, including murder. They were also the first to appear for a bail hearing, but their lawyers agreed to temporarily waive the hearing, saying they want to review more of the evidence against their clients before challenging their detention.
US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office has sought to detain all of those charged pending trial, arguing that they are a flight risk and a danger to the community. Some of the defendants have already been jailed on charges in state courts; several remain fugitives.
Any defendant who is arrested is entitled to a detention hearing to request bail before a judge.
Luis Solis-Vasquez, also known as “Brujo,” was allegedly involved in the December 2014 murder of 29-year-old Javier Ortiz in Chelsea. Edwin Gonzalez, also known as “Sangriento,” and Edwin Diaz, also called “Demente,” were each accused of being involved in the January murder of Cristofer Perez de la Cruz, 16, in East Boston. Gonzalez was also allegedly involved in the September 2014 killing of Wilson Martinez, 15, in East Boston.
Authorities allege that, as members of MS-13, the men carried out violent crimes and recruited young high school students to join the gang.
The federal indictment targeted about a third of the gang’s East Coast operation, according to papers filed in US District Court in Boston.
To support their arguments to detain the alleged gang members as they await trial, prosecutors filed a 30-page affidavit signed by an FBI task force leader. It said those arrested were part of an international network determined to murder rivals and informants who posed a threat.
The affidavit, filed Tuesday, outlined how heads of the MS-13 gang in El Salvador would “green light” the murders of suspected informants and rivals of local gang members. But gang leaders also required “paperwork” — including court documents — to prove that a person was working with authorities before ordering a killing.
According to the affidavit, signed by FBI agent Jeffrey E. Wood Jr., the FBI warned a local “clique” leader — or the leader of a local branch of the gang — that his supervisors had approved of his murder.
The affidavit also detailed how the FBI task force in Boston had videotaped members of MS-13 beating their recruits, as part of the gang’s initiation rites, and had recorded the initiation of one recruit who allegedly murdered a rival in East Boston.
Wood said local cliques of MS-13 were based in East Boston, Everett, and Chelsea, with smaller groups operating in Somerville, Lynn, and Revere.Milton J. Valencia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.