Machete attack update: Alleged MS-13 gang member sentenced to 45 years for 2018 slashing

HOUSTON – An alleged MS-13 gang member who pleaded guilty to murder after slashing a man with a machete in 2018 has been sentenced to 45 years in prison, Harris County officials announced Monday.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release that Francisco Amadeo Flores-Salazar, 21, attacked an alleged rival with a machete before he was shot by other MS-13 members near a Spring elementary school in 2018.

“There is a culture of violence within these gangs that leads to indiscriminate killing and puts all of us in danger,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said via a news release Monday. “This was a premeditated and cold-blooded murder, not some crime of passion, and the killers deserve to spend decades in prison.”

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Authorities said Jose Alfonso Villanueva, 24, was lured out of his home on July 29, 2018, when a friend, who has also been charged, told him that that she was going to give him marijuana for his birthday, which he had celebrated four days earlier.

He got into a car with two MS-13 members and drove to a field that was about 500 feet from Lewis Elementary School, in Spring, according to a news release from the Harris County Attorney’s Office.

Authorities said while at the field, several men, including Flores-Salazar -- who was known as “Psycho” -- attacked Villanueva. Flores-Salazar later told authorities that he slashed and hacked the 24-year-old at least twice with the long blade causing him to try to run away. Other MS-13 members then gunned him down because he was allegedly connected to a rival gang, according to the district attorney’s office’s account of events.

Flores-Salazar is the fourth person to be sentenced out of six people who participated in the slaying, the district attorney’s office said. The case against another defendant is expected to go to trial in coming weeks, the office added.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Sanchez, who prosecuted the case, said a jury was moments from being picked when Flores-Salazar decided to plead guilty.

“This was a premeditated murder, it took weeks to plan out,” Sanchez said. “And when it came time, this guy delivered the first blow. He started everything.”

The district attorney’s office describes MS-13 this way: “Mara Salvatrucha 13, is a transnational gang that originated in Los Angeles, thrives in El Salvador, and is known for extreme violence.”

Homeland Security Investigations, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Houston Police Department investigated the case.

“The successful investigation and prosecution into this brutal murder is a direct result of the strong partnership that Homeland Security Investigations Houston has with the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office,” said Robert Kurtz, deputy special agent in charge, HSI Houston. “Working together with our law enforcement partners we have removed four of the six violent gang members involved in this murder from the community and we will not rest until the other two are behind bars.”

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.