UPDATE MARCH 28: Four alleged MS-13 gang members were charged late Tuesday in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a rival gang member whose body was found on federal property near Frenchman Mountain in February.
22-year-old Josue Diaz-Orellana; 24-year-old Luis Reyes-Castillo, aka “Molesto"; 19-year-old David Perez-Manchame, aka “Herbi” and “Walter Melendez”; and 20-year-old Miguel Torres-Escobar, all El Salvadoran nationals, are charged with assault with intent to commit murder, kidnapping, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. The defendants are illegally in the United States and are in federal custody.
Reyes-Castillo, Perez-Manchame and Torres-Escobar are scheduled to make their initial appearance Wednesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach. A date for Diaz-Orellana has not yet been set.
MS-13 is an identified transnational organized crime group. MS-13, which is short for “La Mara Salvatrucha,” is a gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador. In the United States, MS-13 has been functioning since at least the 1980s.
According to allegations contained in the complaint, on Jan. 21, 2018, Diaz-Orellana, Reyes-Castillo, Perez-Manchame, and Torres-Escobar, kidnapped and murdered Arquimidez Sandavol-Martinez.
His body was discovered on Feb. 1 on federal property on East Lake Mead Boulevard, near mile marker 12, in rural Clark County. Examination of the crime scene indicated that Sandoval-Martinez had been bound and had made some effort to escape his captors before being shot and stabbed to death. Fired 9mm cartridge cases with “Blazer” and “FC” head-stamp markings on them were located within the crime scene.
During the course of the investigation, law enforcement learned that Sandoval-Martinez was last seen on Jan. 21, at Club 2100, located at 2100 Fremont Street. Investigators obtained cell phone records that indicated Diaz-Orellana’s phone used cell towers near the club, heading eastbound along Lake Mead Boulevard, and in the area where Sandavol-Martinez’s body was found.
On March 2, law enforcement stopped Diaz-Orellana who was in a vehicle with Reyes-Castillo, Perez-Manchame and Torres-Escobar. A large butcher knife, a baseball hat with an apparent bloodstain on it, and three 9mm handguns were recovered in the vehicle.
The maximum statutory penalty is 20 years of imprisonment for the assault charge and life imprisonment for both the kidnapping and the discharging of a firearm count.
UPDATE 11:30 P.M. MARCH 26: A former gang member turned pastor is giving insight on the growing recruitment of MS-13 members across the Las Vegas valley.
Pastor Troy Martinez now works to stop violent crime across Southern Nevada through his nonprofit Rebuilding Every City Around Peace, RECAP. Martinez's and his team spend much of their time gaining the trust of gang members, like MS-13, to get them off the streets.
"There have been times where we had the success of them not committing another murder," Martinez said.
Right now, Las Vegas police say there are at least 50 documented MS-13 members across the valley. According to Pastor Martinez, he believes the number of MS-13 gang members is much higher.
"Every time one of these guys is killed or arrested, immediately someone steps up and sometimes 2 or 3 people step up," Martinez said.
MS-13, which started in El Salvador, is known as a notorious and dangerous gang. Pastor Martinez said the gang's main goal in Las Vegas is to recruit new members, sometimes recruiting members as young as middle school.
"The gangs have to recruit to continue and they recruit very young," Martinez said.
RECAP currently added 95 new members to their team to combat the growing gang violence across the city. They visit crime scenes shortly after shooting and grave sites of gang members in hopes of talking to members and getting them off the street.
"That's something we don't want in our community," Martinez said.
Original: Las Vegas police said Monday the MS-13 gang has been responsible for 10 murders in the past year in Southern Nevada.
Police said five suspects, including one juvenile, have been arrested in the murders after the last one occurred on March 2. The first one occurred in March of last year. The murders were linked through forensic evidence.
The victims died of shooting and stabbing injuries. Six of the 10 victims were kidnapped before police said they were murdered on the outskirts of town.
Sheriff Joe Lombardo called the suspects "extremely violent."
The discovery of two bodies at Frenchman Mountain within a short period of time helped tip police off after the body was determined to be a MS-13 gang member.
The victims have been identified as Daniel Clark, Richard Gaudio, Carlos Pachaca-Rodriguez, Arquimidez Sandoval-Martinez, Juan Carlos Estrada Raya, Jose Hernandez, Ricardo Olivas, Izzak Towery, Earl Ryan and Rony Fuentes.
In addition to the ones near Frenchman Mountain, three of the murders occurred near Mount Charleston, while others occurred near Arville Street and Oakey Boulevard, Bonanza and Sandhill roads, Charleston and Nellis boulevards and Charleston Boulevard and Palm Street.
— Joe Bartels (@Joe_Bartels) March 26, 2018
The suspects are believed to be in the United States illegally. All of the suspects are being held on federal immigration crimes and several other charges.
The suspects face charges of kidnapping, assault with intent to commit murder, first degree murder and use of firearm resulting in death. Police said due to the ongoing investigation, their names cannot be released at this time. They range from 17 to 24 years old.
Police believe there are 50 MS-13 members documented living in or around the Las Vegas valley. Lombardo said MS-13 does not have a large footprint in the valley.
Las Vegas police are working with law enforcement partners in the California cities of Fresno and Los Angeles, where the gang has a larger presence.
18 firearms have been recovered with 8 of them stolen in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's jurisdiction and one in Henderson police's jurisdiction.
Watch LVMPD's press conference below.