Honduran MS-13 gang member with prior deportations convicted of drug and firearm trafficking

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A Honduran MS-13 gang member and illegal immigrant with prior deportations has been sentenced to 90 months in federal prison for drug and firearms crimes, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Franklin Pinedo-Caceras, nicknamed “Bomba”, entered the United States illegally in 2014 and was deported in 2016. In 2017, he was found in Nashville with cocaine, marijuana, scales, a gun assault and other firearms. He was later deported in 2018, the DOJ said in a statement.

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Seven months later, he returned to the United States and kidnapped and beat a local high school student when he refused to join MS-13, authorities said. The gang, also called Mara Salvatrucha, was started in Los Angeles by immigrants from Central America and has spread across the continent, especially to Northern Triangle countries like El Salvador and Guatemala.

He is known for his particularly heinous and gruesome crimes, and his motto is they say “mata, viola, controla” – meaning “kill, violate, control”.

In September 2019, he was involved in a car accident. Authorities said he had been involved in drug trafficking, finding cocaine ready to be resold, scales, an AK-17, ammunition and a revolver with a defaced serial number, as well as several cell phones .

DOJ said Pineda-Caceras pleaded guilty to illegal re-entry of a previously deported alien; be an illegal alien in possession of ammunition; be an illegal alien in possession of a firearm; possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number; and possession of marijuana and cocaine with intent to distribute.

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He was tried for possession of a firearm in pursuit of a drug trafficking felony and was found guilty by a jury in February. The case was part of an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OECDTF) and has been investigated by a number of agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, and the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department.

Border Patrol agents routinely apprehend MS-13 gang members and other gang members crossing the border.

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There have been 321 arrests of gang members so far in fiscal year 2022, already nearly exceeding the 348 encountered in the previous fiscal year and the 363 encountered in fiscal year 2020.

Earlier this month, Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol agents arrested three members of the MS-13 gang – one with prior assault and battery charges and another with a conviction and time served for money laundering.

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