Skip to comments.Latino gang hitmen guilty in local killing
Posted on 02/12/2011 8:19:19 PM PST by moonshinner_09
Two members of a notorious Central American gang face life in federal prison in a murder-for-hire scheme cooked up over bad blood in Honduras that ended in gunfire in West Columbia, a prosecutor said Friday.
Josue Benitez, 22, and Martin Teran, 36, were convicted Thursday after a three-week trial of a hit on Jorge Ramos, U.S. prosecutor Jay Richardson said. Ramos was gunned down while he worked on his car Nov. 2, 2008, in Hendrix Mobile Home Park on Leaphart Road.
The MS-13 gang members drove from Houston to South Carolina to carry out the contract killing, Richardson said.
Jurors also convicted the two of returning to the United States after being deported in Terans case six times and being illegal aliens carrying firearms, the U.S. Attorneys office said. Teran, of Guatemala, also was convicted of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
They are the latest members of the El Salvador-based gang to be convicted in the Carolinas. Six MS-13 members were found guilty last month in Charlotte of crimes ranging from murder to cocaine trafficking. The investigations are unrelated, Richardson said.
The trial showed that Teran and Benitez, the gunman and a Honduran, came to the Columbia area with a third man looking for Ramos, who had been living here a year or two, the prosecutor said. The trio was to be paid $40,000 to kill Ramos, an auto mechanic. A third defendant, Juan Carrillo, remains a fugitive, Richardson said.
Benitez came here with his wife and child, his court-appointed defense attorney, Cam Littlejohn of Columbia, said Friday.
Who brings their wife and baby along for a contract killing? he said.
Littlejohn said prosecutors had differing arguments about the motive behind the plot. One informant who testified said it was because a man in Honduras wanted Ramos dead for killing his son. Another informant said Ramos was suspected of stealing nearly 40 pounds of drugs. The defense failed to persuade jurors that the absence of a clear motive was grounds for acquittal.
The hired hands drove from Texas in Terans gray Isuzu SUV then bought two pickup trucks, a white one and a green one with a white door. The purchases were to substantiate what Richardson said was their alibi, that they came here looking for vehicles and shopping at flea markets and garage sales.
Ramos, whose age was not immediately available, was shot in the head and back with a .38-caliber pistol, according to the evidence. The getaway vehicle was a green pickup with a white door.
It was found abandoned in woods off Orchard Drive, an I-26 frontage road near the mobile home park, Richardson said.
The suspects drove back toward Texas in separate vehicles, the Isuzu and the white pickup, Littlejohn said.
Benitez, who has a tattoo on his left hand showing the Roman numerals for 13, was arrested in Houston about two weeks after Ramos died. Police found a .38-caliber Beretta, which SLED ballistics experts identified as the gun that killed Ramos, the prosecutor said.
While the two suspects sat for months in the Lexington County jail awaiting trial, agents intercepted encoded communications from Teran that Richardson said showed Teran was trying to keep witnesses from testifying. Teran has made statements that he is a member of MS-13, the prosecutor said.
The defendants will face mandatory life sentences after a pre-sentence report is given to trial Judge Joe Anderson. That process usually takes two to three months.
MS-13, short for Mara Salvatrucha, has it origins in Salvadoran guerilla fighters who settled in the Rampart area of Los Angeles, where they formed a gang to counter violence from Mexican-Americans already living there, according to the website knowgangs.com.
The Salvadorans had experience and training in guerilla warfare so they quickly became known as the most violent gang in the area. The gang since has spread across the nation.
He just wants to make sure that he’s here for the next amnesty. He may want to drop a few dollars in the Jeb in 2012 bucket.
No more Bushes. No more RINOs. No more Democrats.
At least 60 Americans slain last year in Mexico
State Department officials say that 79 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico in 2009, and that at least 60 were killed last year from January to November, though an official annual figure has yet to be compiled. The numbers have been rising since 2007, when 38 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico, State Department records show.
In late September, a U.S. man was shot to death while he and his wife were riding water scooters on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake. A month later, a student at the University of Texas, Brownsville, was taken off a passenger bus and killed by gunmen. Then in November, four men from San Marcos, Texas, along with a 14-year-old visitor from Chicago, disappeared in Nuevo Laredo and are presumed to have been abducted, the FBI said.
The heaviest toll is in El Paso, where many residents cross the border regularly to conduct business or visit family.[SNIP]
Mexico man arrested in cruise employee’s death
Thursday, February 10, 2011; 8:20 PM
CANCUN, Mexico — A Mexican man has been detained in the death of a Royal Caribbean cruise employee who was discovered drowned in the sea off the resort island of Cozumel, authorities said Thursday.
Nelson Perez Torres, 24, confessed to hitting Monika Markiewicz in the head with a rock and then throwing her into the ocean, said Francisco Alor, attorney general of Quintana Roo state, where Cozumel is located.[snip]
Thank you upchuck.