Post sponsored by NewzEngine.com

Source: US State of California

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal grand jury has indicted six Salinas-based street gang members, charging them with racketeering conspiracy, use of a firearm causing murder, and related crimes, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Tatum King, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The charges were announced in a press conference attended by U.S. Attorney Anderson and Special Agent in Charge King, as well as Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni and Salinas Police Department (SPD) Chief Adele Fresé.

The defendants are Siaki Tavale, 24, Andrew Alvarado, 29, John Magat, 33, Anthony Valdez, 23, Mark Anthony Garcia, 29, and Anelu Tavale, 24.  According to the Second Superseding Indictment filed October 15, 2020, and unsealed today, the defendants were members of a violent hit crew also referred to as the “murder squad.”  The indictment describes how the murder squad orchestrated seven shootings, killing eight people and injuring several others.  According to the indictment, seven of the eight homicide victims had no known gang affiliation.  

“The indictment alleges a pattern of horrific violence,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson.  “This violence destroys lives.  This violence holds our community hostage.  In announcing today’s charges, we reaffirm the importance of professional law enforcement.  We need professional law enforcement to protect the community where we live and work and raise our families.”

“The family and friends of the men murdered by this heinous criminal enterprise have suffered profound loss.  The inability for these men to live out their lives is extremely disturbing to a law abiding community, all of whom have a fundamental right to be safe in their homes,” said Special Agent in Charge King. “Working together in a collaborative effort with the U.S. Attorney, Northern District, the Salinas Police Department, the FBI, and the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office ensured that these criminals are afforded the most expeditious justice and will help protect the community from their wrath of terror.”

“Over the past three years, the FBI San Francisco Division has worked to link this murder squad with the Nuestra Familia and Norteno street gangs,” said Special Agent in Charge Bennett. “I would like to recognize the work of the members of the FBI throughout this investigation. This case is another example of how strong collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement is so effective in keeping our communities safe.”

“Violent crimes committed by gang members continue to plague our community,” said DA Pacioni. “Awareness that innocent members of our community may be targeted affects the quality of all of our lives. That is why our office works hand-in-hand with the esteemed members of our law enforcement community to investigate such cases aggressively and bring justice to victims of such crimes.”  

The indictment explains that a violent group of Norteno street gang members and others coordinated and executed missions to hunt and kill rival Sureno street gang members – or those the group perceived to be Surenos – in the neighborhoods of Salinas, Calif.  The indictment describes murder squad’s use of multi-vehicle caravans that often included one vehicle with designated shooters and at least one spotter or security vehicle to help spot victims and avoid law enforcement detection.  The indictment describes that the murder squad identified victims by characteristics they associated with rival Surenos – for example, Hispanic males, persons with shaved heads, and/or persons wearing blue.  Once a victim was targeted, the shooters would allegedly fire until their firearms’ magazines were emptied.  The indictment alleges that some shooters “hit up” their victims – or, confirmed their gang status – before shooting them, but that members of the murder squad did not always do this, and did not always wait for an answer, before shooting.  The indictment alleges that this practice led to the shooting and killing of victims who were not, in fact, gang members.  The indictment further alleges that the more “bodies” accumulated by a murder squad member, the higher status conferred on that member.

The indictment specifically provides descriptions of seven hunts in Salinas that culminated in injury and death between January 2017 and November 2018:

  1. On January 12, 2017, Siaki Tavale, Alvarado, Garcia, and others went hunting for rival gang members to kill.  Their hunt led them to Sunrise Street and to a group of Hispanic men outside a house party. The shooters opened fire at the group.  Four victims were shot, two were killed.  There was no evidence the victims were actually gang members.  After the shooting, the shooters led police officers on a high speed chase, crashed and abandoned their vehicle, and fled on foot.
  2. On February 11, 2017, Siaki Tavale, Alvarado, and others again went hunting in Salinas.  This time, the defendants encountered a small group of Hispanic men outside the Hebbron Heights Community Center.  The shooters fired at least 18 shots at the men, striking one victim in the head and killing him.  The shooters were driving in a stolen SUV that had been doused in gasoline earlier that day, as a precaution in case it needed to be set on fire.
  3. The next day, on February 12, 2017, Siaki Tavale and Alvarado were joined by Anelu Tavale and others as they again hunted for rival Sureno gang members to kill.  The group was driving in the same stolen SUV as the day before when they encountered two Hispanic men in another vehicle.  The defendants perceived the men in the other vehicle to be rival Sureno gang members, and followed the vehicle to a residence on Orchard Avenue.  After the vehicle pulled into the driveway, the shooters opened fire.  The shooters fired at least 20 shots at the two victims. The victims survived, but suffered gunshot wounds to the neck, torso, and upper back.
  4. On March 25, 2017, Alvarado, Magat, Garcia, and others again went hunting for rival gang members to kill.  This hunt was organized to retaliate for the recent killing of a fellow Norteno gang member.  While driving on Dennis Avenue, the hunters happened upon two Hispanic men in the driveway of a residence.  The shooters fired at least 32 shots at these men, killing them.  One victim was killed in the driveway, while the other was chased to the backyard of the residence.  There was no evidence either of the victims was actually a gang member.
  5. On May 13, 2017, Alvarado, Magat, and others again went hunting for rival gang members to kill.  When they reached Paloma Avenue in Salinas, they spotted a young Hispanic man standing on the front porch of a residence.  The shooters fired at least 15 shots at the victim, hitting him in the head and killing him. There was no evidence the victim was a gang member.  
  6. On June 11, 2018, Magat, Valdez, Anelu Tavale, and others again went hunting for rival gang members to kill.  The group spotted a man walking down Center Street, fired at least 19 shots, and killed him.  As before, there was no evidence the victim was a member of a rival gang.
  7. On November 3, 2018, Valdez, Anelu Tavale, and others again went hunting for rival Sureno gang members to kill.  This time, the purpose of the hunt was to commemorate the birthday of a deceased gang member.  The shooters spotted a man walking on North Hebbron Avenue, and fired at least 35 shots at him. The victim was shot in the head and killed.  Again, there was no evidence that this victim was actually a gang member.
     

In sum, the defendants are charged with the following crimes and, if convicted of all charged offenses, face the below-listed maximum penalties:

Defendant

Charges

Maximum Statutory Penalty

Siaki Tavale aka “Shocky” aka “Gunner”

18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) – Racketeering Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) – Conspiracy to Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-1

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-2

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2 – Possession/Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of and During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence re: Attempted Murders of Victim-3 and Victim-4 

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1)  and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-5

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2 – Possession/Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of and During and in Relation to Crime of Violence re: Attempted Murder of Victim-6

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2 – Possession/Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of and During and in Relation to Crime of Violence re: Attempted Murders of Victim-7 and Victim-8

Death or life imprisonment

Andrew Alvarado aka “Oso” aka “Banger”

18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) – Racketeering Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) – Conspiracy to Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-1

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-2

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2 – Possession/Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of and During and in Relation to Crime of Violence re: Attempted Murders of Victim-3 and Victim-4

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-5

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2 – Possession/Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of and During and in Relation to Crime of Violence re: Attempted Murder of Victim 6

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2 – Possession/Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of and During and in Relation to Crime of Violence re: Attempted Murders of Victim-7 and Victim-8

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-9

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-10

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-11

Death or life imprisonment

John Magat aka “Romeo”

18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) – Racketeering Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) – Conspiracy to Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-9

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-10

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder of Victim-11

Death or life imprisonment

Anthony Valdez aka “Hitter” aka “Tony Boronda”

18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) – Racketeering Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) – Conspiracy to Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. §§ 1959(a)(1) and 2 – Murder in Aid of Racketeering of Victim-13

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2 – Possession/Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of and During and in Relation to Crime of Violence

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 – Use of a Firearm Causing Murder

Death or life imprisonment

Mark Anthony Garcia aka “Tony from Santa Rita”

18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) – Racketeering Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) – Conspiracy to Murder in Aid of Racketeering

Life imprisonment

Anelu Tavale aka “Angel”

18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) – Racketeering Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) – Conspiracy to Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2  – Possession/Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of and During and in Relation to Crime of Violence re: Attempted Murders of Victim-7 and Victim-8

Life imprisonment

However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

An indictment contains allegations only and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  

All the defendants are in custody.  Mark Anthony Garcia and Anelu Tavale are scheduled for initial appearances on October 22, 2020, at 10:30 a.m., before the Honorable Nathanael Cousins, United States Magistrate Judge.

The case is being prosecuted by the Organized Crime Strike Force of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. The investigation of this case was conducted by the Salinas Police Department, together with the Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.  The investigation was conducted and funded by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a multi-agency task force that coordinates long-term narcotics trafficking investigations.

MIL OSI USA News