Two suspected gang members from the Southland are in federal custody in connection with a Central Valley takedown of the transnational criminal organization MS-13, it was announced today.
Jefferson “Chino” Guevara, 19, and Claudia “Maniaka” Lizaola, 39, are charged in the Eastern District of California with drug conspiracy, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The two were arrested Thursday as part of a multi-agency operation, known as Blue Inferno, in which more than 20 people with suspected ties to MS- 13 were taken into custody in connection with alleged gang activities, including murder, assault, kidnapping and drug trafficking, according to federal authorities.
Additionally, two federal indictments unsealed Friday charge two MS-13 members with kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering and three MS-13 gang members with conspiracy and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering.
Most of the defendants were arrested in the Central Valley town of Mendota, east of Fresno, where at least two MS-13 “cliques” affiliated with the Los Angeles branch of the gang have operated, according to the DOJ. Prosecutors allege that more than 14 homicides since 2015 are believed to be related to MS-13 in Mendota.
“When you terrorize communities, you must pay the price,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Operation Blue Inferno is a successful display of the dedication and hard work of our combined law enforcement personnel. We will continue working alongside our federal and local law enforcement partners to ensure safety and security for every California family.”