11 MS-13 gang members charged in 5 Houston-area homicides, police say

By Aaron Barker - Senior Web Editor, Phil Archer - Reporter

HOUSTON - Eleven members of the MS-13 gang were arrested in connection with five homicides that happened in the Houston area over the course of three months, police said Tuesday.

The arrests are part of an ongoing effort by city, county, state and federal police to crack down on one of the most violent street gangs in the region.

“Their methods a little bit more unusual than the other gangs and quite frankly they’re more brutal,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a Tuesday press conference announcing the arrests.

The first homicide in the recent outbreak happened June 6 when a man was found hacked to death by a machete in Cullinan Park in southwest Houston, police said. Marlon Miranda-Moran, Wilson Ventura-Mejia, Miguel Aguilar-Ochoa and Carlos Henriquez-Torres were charged with murder in connection with the case. Charges are pending against two other people, identified as Walter Mejia and Jimmy Villalobez-Gomez.

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The second homicide happened July 3 in Liberty County, where a man was taken to a wooded area and beaten with a bat and then hacked to death with a machete, after saying he wanted to leave the gang, police said. Walter Mejia and Villalobez-Gomez were charged in connection with this case.

The third homicide investigation began Aug. 1, after the body of a man was found buried in a field at 5300 W. Fuqua St. after he was killed in Galveston, police said.

The fourth homicide happened Aug. 4 at La Union Restaurant at Wilcrest Drive and Bissonnet Street, where a man was gunned down in the parking lot after getting into an argument with several people, police said. Jairo Licona-Cardenas, Elida Medrano and a juvenile were charged in connection with this case. An arrest warrant has been issued for a fourth person in this case, but police would not release any other details.

“It appears that was the result of an argument inside the restaurant that spilled out into the parking lot. Next thing you know this man was gunned down for having an argument,” Acevedo said. 

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The fifth homicide investigation began Aug. 30, after the body of a girl was found at the same Fuqua Street location where the man’s body was found Aug. 1, police said. Investigators said the girl was not a member of the gang and had been reported missing May 4.

“The number one priority of any mayor is to maintain safety and security of people that live in our city,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday.

So far, 10 of the charged suspects are in custody, one is still at large, and police say the pressure on MS-13 will continue.

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