LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Two weeks after a major police crackdown on 21 Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang leaders and key operatives in Los Angeles, authorities have failed to arrest the three key figures accused of controlling criminal activities of branches that allegedly handed out weapons to members and supervised the sale of narcotics.
The fugitives are Irwin Hugo 'Droopy' Garcia, presumed leader or "shot-caller" of the MS-13 in Pasadena; Jesse 'Grinch' Perez, chief of the so-called "Adams clique", an MS-13 group that runs a sector of southwest Los Angeles; and Jorge Alberto Ramos, alias 'Poison', who has been identified as one of the leaders of the Leeward Grandes, established in Westlake in central LA.
Authorities have been on the look out for the three men since May 17, following a raid involving more than 800 federal and local agents delivered a major blow to MS-13 in iuts stronghold.
The gang of mostly Central American migrants emerged in the 1980s and currently has 800 members, authorities say.
"They're still fugitives, we're still looking for them," said Thom Mrozek, a spokeswoman for the federal district attorney's office in the Central District of California.
According to a federal indictment, 'Droopy' Garcia is involved in the trafficking of weapons and narcotics in Pasadena and other regions of Los Angeles County. He is allegedly part of the group of "shot-callers" who seized the reins of MS-13 in the city about three years ago.
According to one message intercepted by agents, Garcia was interested in buying "nice pieces" for $1,000, a reference to guns, on March 19, 2015. In other messages he mentioned his gang's arsenal of weapons.
"On or about March 23, 2015, by telephone using coded language, defendant ... Garcia told CHS-1 (the informant) that defendant ... Garcia located a 9mm handgun for the price of $500,” according to the indictment.
They also discovered that he had an illegal marijuana cultivation and a Facebook page, offering a "good price."
Part of his job in the clique was to discipline those who did not obey the rules. On one occasion he hit a gang member who was hassling other members of the MS-13 on his turf with a gun and a 26 second beating he threaatened to administer to someone who "had disrespected the bride of a member in Pasadena."
The Mexican Mafia
Jesse 'Grinch' Perez also kept his people in check at the Adams clique and was charged with collecting a rent of $600 a year on behalf of the Mexican Mafia, the main LA crime organization that controls the activities of the Hispanic gangs in California.
The Mara Salvatrucha was known as MS until 1990, when it added the “13” because the M of 'Mexican Mafia' is the 13th letter of the alphabet.
According to the authorities, 'Grinch' Perez is rarely without a gun. Authorities say he allegedly discussed obtaining weapons for his group to attack their enemies. In a communication intercepted by investigators, Perez and an informant "discussed a shootout between the MS-13 and a rival gang in which a pedestrian was shot," according to federal prosecutors.
Although the third fugitive, Jorge Alberto Ramos, is not considered a 'shot-caller' of his group, the 'Leeward Grandes', the police argue that he was one of the participants in the MS-13 leaders' meetings, and who has also sold methamphetamine in Westlake, provides weapons to his cronies, and oversees his gang's criminal activities.
At the end of September 2015, Ramos received a message on his cell phone with the address of a MS-13 chiefs meeting and said he expressed concern that they were under police surveillance. He had no idea that one of those who answered his message was a federal informant, according to the indictment.
"Ramos expressed his concern to the authorities' informant about the presence of police and security cameras in the area of the MS-13 general meeting," the indictment cites.