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Reprieve from MS-13 violence after massive 2016 sweep didn't last long; new leader faces sentencing for overseeing murder, violence, recruitment of new members in local high schools

A violence vacuum left after 61 MS-13 members were arrested in 2016 was filled by MS-13 leaders coming up from New York to re-assert the gang on the streets of East Boston and neighboring communities through murders, beatings and the recruiting of local high-school students from Central America, federal prosecutors say.

Next week, one of the new generation of MS-13 leaders faces sentencing in US District Court in Boston following his guilty plea earlier this year to a RICO charge related to his activities in the Boston area, which federal officials say include orchestrating and watching the brutal stabbing of a teen at the bottom of a stairway at East Boston's Memorial Stadium just 11 months after the roundup. He also helped organize what was supposed to be a murder in April 2018 at Belle Isle Marsh in East Boston, but which left the victim only grazed and unconscious when the shooter's gun misfired.

In a sentencing memorandum filed yesterday, federal prosecutors say Manuel "Rocky" Adan Yanez Cruz, 23, who lived in an apartment on Meridian Street at West Eagle Street in East Boston, should be sent away for at least 15 years. His attorneys have yet to file their own recommendations to the judge before his sentencing, scheduled for Thursday.

In their memorandum, prosecutors say Yanez Cruz was a leader of an MS-13 sub-gang called Huntington Locos Salvatrucha (HLS), which had been based in New York, but which sent Yanez Cruz, Edwin "Duende" Amaya Mejia Alvarado and others up to Boston to re-start MS-13 here, in part by murdering perceived members of the rival 18th Street Gang, in part by renewing the gang's recruitment of high-school teens.

Despite the large volume of individuals and cliques caught up in the historical January 2016 takedown, two cliques lay beyond the reach (and at the time, the eye) of law enforcement's widely cast net - HLS and the Sykos clique. ... In fact, HLS - historically one of the largest and most violent MS-13 cliques in New York and other areas in the country - largely had had no prior presence in the Boston area. Yet in the wake of that massive takedown, and as those MS-13's members prosecutions were underway, a new era of MS-13 violence was conceived. Like an unstoppable Hydra, new MS-13 members sprouted up with ambition to reconstitute the gang's hold in the Boston area, generate new cliques, and elevate their own individual gang status. ...

By August 2018, investigators were learning increasing information about two cliques that had been rising in power and reputation in the post-2016 vacuum, i.e., HLS and the Sykos, as well as the individuals heading them (which, for HLS, included the Defendant). Initial information suggested that these growing cliques might be connected to the startling violence that appeared to be intensifying in late spring/early summer 2018. ...

A cold reality set in as investigators began learning more and more information over the following year about the Defendant, HLS, and the Skyos clique: while law enforcement thought that they had significantly dismantled MS-13 after the 2016 takedown, the Defendant and others had been actively working—including within the Boston school system - to rebuild it and execute upon its violent mission. Following the Defendant's state arrest, multiple cooperating witnesses detailed how the Defendant, alongside co-HLS clique leader Duende, sought to recruit them into HLS - including at school - and groom them for violence, instructing them on MS-13's rules, objectives, and punishments.

According to the feds, recruitment efforts included setting up a cafeteria table at East Boston High School that only MS-13 members could sit at.

Through his active recruitment of local high schoolers into MS-13, the Defendant promoted a culture of violence. Specifically, the Defendant (alongside his co-clique leader) lured young men into the gang and groomed them for aggression, teaching them MS-13's mandates on eliminating perceived gang threats (whether rivals or cooperators), encouraging them to commit violence to achieve elevated gang status and reputation, and governing through fear by warning of the consequences of violating MS-13's ordinates (namely, beatings or death). ...

Amaya himself was arrested in 2019, pleaded guilty to a RICO charge in August and faces sentencing in February.

The murder of Luis Fernando Orellana Ruano, prosecutors charge, gave Yanez Cruz the sort of MS-13 cred he needed to recruit new members.

Yanez Cruz and other MS-13 leaders - including those in the gang's home base of El Salvador - became convinced that Orellana Ruano was an 18th Street Gang member - he was not, the feds say - and spent several months discussing exactly how and where to kill him. At one point, prosecutors say, Yanez Cruz cautioned somebody he knew who also knew Orellana Ruano to keep his distance from the teen to avoid meeting the same fate being planned for him.

Around 11 p.m. on Dec. 24, Orellana Ruano was somehow lured to Memorial Stadium where members of both the Huntington and Sykos sub-gangs - Sykos was a Boston-based "clique" with members who had escaped the 2016 dragnet - then stabbed him more than a dozen times in the back, chest and neck. Yanez Cruz was there, both to watch and - on orders from MS-13 leaders in El Salvador - to jump in should something go wrong, prosecutors say.

This past February, a local MS-13 member was sentenced to life for being one of the actual murderers, of both Orellana Ruano and of another teen in Lynn by the Sykos clique in July, 2018 - a murder the feds say Yanez Cruz was informed about beforehand, but did nothing to stop.

Following the East Boston murder:

[T]he Defendant then remorselessly used that murder to lure more young men into MS-13, which further aggravates the heinousness of the offense. Put another way, participating in Ruano's horrific murder did not deter the Defendant from MS-13's mission – he became further entrenched in it. And most disturbingly, this was not the only time the Defendant was connected to murder. In the two years following Ruano's death, this Defendant was connected to other senseless acts of violence that further underscore the need for a sentence that will protect the public, deter future crime, promote respect for the law, and provide just punishment.

These include a September, 2018 arrest for an incident in which Yanez Cruz whipped out a knife ran after a member of a rival gang on a public street. He was arrested on state charges for that, was convicted, then went before a federal judge after ICE tried to get him kicked out of the country. But he lied to that judge about his gang involvement and he had the immigration charges dropped, although he was still ordered held on the state assault charges.

At his June 2019 removal proceedings, the Defendant committed perjury and made numerous false representations to the court in his attempt to gain lawful status and remain in the United States. Among other things, the Defendant brazenly lied about his association with Duende/Amaya, his connection to MS-13, and even about the alias he was soon thereafter indicted under. ...

After the June 25, 2019 decision, which credited his testimony but did not grant him asylum, the Defendant filed a motion to continue the immigration proceedings so that he could pursue a Special Immigration Juvenile Visa or I-360 application. Thankfully, by the time the immigration court ruled on that request, the Defendant had already been indicted in this case, a fact that the immigration court noted as a significant factor when denying further relief in August 2019.

Prosecutors note that Yanez Cruz is the third local MS-13 member just this year to plead guilty to RICO charges after getting a break, at least initially, by lying to a judge in deportation hearings - including the one sentenced to life for actually stabbing Orellana Ruano.

PDF icon Government sentencing memorandum425.32 KB
PDF icon Indictment919.39 KB


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Why it was a good idea to take the police out of Boston High Schools.

Voting closed 6

But this isn't it. MS-13 was even more active in Boston schools before the 2016 raids, when School Police was still a thing.

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So they don't arrest and/or shoot kids.

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on a public street, and the judge buys his testimony that he isn't involved in gang activity. ICE personnel must be encouraged by the support of the judiciary.

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But he lied to that judge about his gang involvement and he had the immigration charges dropped, although he was still ordered held on the state assault charges.

Note the words lied to that judge. Do you know what the lie was? Were you present when the lie was made?

Also note that state charges. Conviction of state laws will also result in deportation.

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Boston noir.

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Was it due to violence or policing vacuum?

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“History Is Bunk!” — that seems to be the attitude that prevails in our society. As long as we criminalize entire domains of human behavior (using substances to get high and paying for sex are two huge examples), while at the same time ensuring that millions of people live in desperate poverty, then we will have “gangs” of “criminals” who will meet those needs, and compete with one another.

You might notice that the gangs competing for the market to sell us LEGAL intoxicants (alcohol) are conducting their wars with lawyers, lobbyists, and ballot questions, rather than thugs, knives, and handguns. That’s because we ended alcohol prohibition 100 years ago.

We know the solutions to our gang problems, but there are enough who benefit from the current arrangements that we can’t implement them.

And so it goes.

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Prohibition was a lesson in how to create criminal gangs. It's obvious the lesson was never learned.

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Hopefully people don't think that this stuff isn't still going on. It's bubbling up again and little seems to be getting done about it (I'm hoping the gang unit is doing something, but not holding my breath) - but wait until one of the folks who plunked down 3/4 of a mill for 1000sf on Eagle Hill gets robbed at knife point while jogging home one night by one of these "kids" with bad impulse control. As long as they prey their own they will skate right by - hit one of the Suffolk U kids or a Kendall bio-dweeb and they'll come down on them like a ton of spoiled brunches.

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Thing is.. they won't go after the white people. They know better. They know this will happen to them because (as told by a Gang officer) "White People will make a stink"

Who's their target? Other Latinos. Because they prey on the people who don't have their immigration in order, and use that to strong arm people into being silent. This is how teens get involved & cannot get away from it because their parents may have immigration issues, so the teen must comply to the gang otherwise they or people they love face consquences.

This is why white people ask the question "I don't understand how someone could let their child get involved in something like that". This is why. Its not that they don't want to intervene. They can't without inflicting harm upon themselves.

I'm mildly upset that this is happening (the rebirth of the gangs around here). I already have to fight these people and their drug dealing on my street. And now it's going to get worse.

Its really a game of whack-a-mole with this. Makes me wonder if there's something else at play here is to why we can't seem to shake this crap.

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Like the movie stated "Medellin refers to a time when one group controlled every aspect of the drug trade, providing a measure of order that we could control. And until somebody finds a way to convince 20% of the population to stop snorting and smoking that shit, order's the best we can hope for."

Voting closed 4