MS-13 clique in Santa Cruz operated at the direction of leadership in El Salvador

Alexander Martinez-Flores, 29, of Santa Cruz, California, has pleaded guilty to using a firearm to cause murder, conspiracy to commit murder and extortion, and racketeering conspiracy. These activities were in connection with his role as a member and former leader of an MS-13 gang clique. The guilty plea was received by Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Judge in San Jose.

La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, has local chapters, or “cliques,” in many countries, including El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States. The Santa Cruz Salvatrucha Locos (SCSL) is an MS-13 clique that operates in and around Santa Cruz.

According to his plea agreement, Alexander Martinez-Flores was a member of the SCSL clique from at least January 2013 to February 2017, and was the first-in-command from about February to August 2014. Martinez-Flores coordinated with MS-13 leaders in El Salvador and other places to carry out their directives in and around Santa Cruz. Martinez-Flores directed how SCSL money was maintained and spent.

The plea agreement describes his role in patrolling Santa Cruz Salvatrucha Locos turf in Santa Cruz. Martinez-Flores admitted to participating in patrols with firearms and knives, and to beating up, stabbing, threatening or shooting rival gang members in order to maintain control over this turf. He admitted to hunting for rivals to kill on many occasions.

The plea agreement also describes Martinez-Flores’ role in supporting extortion and drug trafficking activities. It describes how on one occasion in July 2016, Martinez-Flores collected a “monthly fee due to SCSL” from a local drug dealer, which is legally classified as extortion.

Alexander Martinez-Flores admitted to discussing with the gang seeking approval from El Salvador to kill a rival gang member, in April 2016. The murder was approved and he was one of the gang members tasked with murdering the victim. In September, the victim was shot and killed, and Martinez-Flores was one of the shooters. He celebrated the murder with other MS-13 members.

Pursuant to the terms of his plea agreement, Martinez-Flores agreed that an appropriate disposition of his case would include a term of 30 years in prison and a five-year term of supervised release.

Nine other Santa Cruz Salvatrucha Locos defendants have already pleaded guilty for their roles in the criminal enterprise and seven have been sentenced, as specified in this news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California.

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