A federal grand jury in Nashville, Tennessee, returned a 16-count superseding indictment Wednesday, charging seven MS-13 gang members with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and serious firearm-related offenses, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Those charged include Carlos Ochoa-Martinez, 31, aka “El Serio,” Jason Sandoval, 35, aka “Bin Laden,” Jorge Flores, 28, aka “Peluche,” all of Nashville; Jose Pineda-Caceres, 22, aka “Demente,” and Franklin Hernandez, 21, aka “Happy,” both of Honduras; Gerson Serrano-Ramirez, 33, aka “Frijole,” of El Salvador and Juan Melendez,” aka “Shaggy,” of Lebanon, Tennessee.
The indictment alleges that beginning in 2014 and continuing until yesterday, the defendants conspired with each other to obtain bulk quantities of marijuana and cocaine for redistribution in and around middle Tennessee. Once the drugs were received, the defendants would reduce them into smaller quantities and sell them in and around nightclubs in Nashville and from the parking lots and restrooms of these establishments. In order to maximize drug distribution in these nightclubs, the defendants would threaten rival and competing drug dealers who sold and attempted to sell cocaine and marijuana in the nightclubs.
In order to protect their drugs, territory and proceeds, the defendants would acquire, carry and discharge firearms. To maintain and extend control over their drug distribution, the defendants would commit acts involving murder, intimidation and assault against individuals who jeopardized its operations, including rival drug dealers.
All defendants are in custody and will appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge at a later date.
This investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. Trial Attorney Matthew Hoff of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime & Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ahmed Safeeullah are prosecuting this case.
An indictment is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.