Alleged MS-13 gangmembers face murder in Daly City killing 

A federal grand jury in San Francisco has indicted three alleged members of the MS-13 street gang in connection with the killing of a Daly City man last year, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Alexander Temaj-Castanon, 26, an employee at a San Francisco barbecue restaurant, was fatally shot on his way home from work early the morning of June 21, according to police. He had just stepped off a Muni bus shortly after midnight in the 6200 block of Mission Street in Daly City when he was shot once in the head.

Temaj-Castanon was believed to have been mistaken for a gang member, police said.

On Tuesday, following a lengthy investigation by Daly City police and federal immigration authorities, the grand jury returned indictments in the case against Davie Jimmy Mejia-Sensente, 26, of Daly City; Carlos Mejia-Quintanilla, 21, of San Francisco; and Luis Amilar-Zanas, 32, of San Francisco, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

If convicted of murder in aid of racketeering, they could face life in prison or the death penalty, according to the office.

The indictments allege the three men are members of Mara Salvatrucha, a dangerous international criminal enterprise originating in El Salvador that has spread to several U.S. cities, including San Francisco and Daly City. A faction of the gang operates in San Francisco’s Mission district around 20th and Mission streets.

Prosecutors allege the men have conspired to kill both actual and suspected members of other gangs, along with people suspected of cooperating with police.  

Daly City police Sgt. David Mackriss said the morning Temaj-Castanon was killed he was riding a bus with two men suspected in the homicide. During the trip, he was believed to have spoken with the men, who might have questioned him about gang affiliation, Mackriss said.

Mackriss said Temaj-Castanon had tattoos, but they were not gang-related and he was not a member of a gang.
“Unfortunately, there’s really no right answer once the [gang affiliation] questions come up,” Mackriss said. “The golden scenario is to leave with your life.”

All three suspects were already in custody on separate charges when Tuesday’s indictments were handed down.
Mejia-Sensente is facing a separate charge of being an illegal immigrant in possession of ammunition, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Mejia-Quintanilla is in San Mateo County Jail in connection with the murder case, and Amilar-Zanas is in custody in New York on a charge of illegal re-entry following deportation.

An affidavit filed in U.S. district court in September by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent said Mejia-Sensente had been arrested May 7, 2009, in Daly City on drug and gun possession charges.

Facing deportation proceedings, Mejia-Sensente was released on bond the following day, while his immigration case was being adjudicated, the affidavit said. Temaj-Castanon was shot to death a year later.

Behind bars

A federal grand jury indicted three men on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, racketeering, carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and thereby causing death, and aiding and abetting.

Name: Davie Jimmy Mejia-Sensente
Age: 26
City: Daly City
Aliases: Crazy, Loco

Name: Carlos Mejia-Quintanilla
Age: 21
City: San Francisco
Aliases: Wilfredo Oliva-Castro, Sleepy, Dormido

Name: Luis Amilar-Zanas
Age: 32
City: San Francisco
Aliases: Luis Sana, Trucha, Yomo

Several suspected gang members already on trial

The federal indictments of three alleged MS-13 gang members believed to be responsible for the 2010 killing of a Daly City man came as seven other alleged members of the gang are already on trial in federal court in San Francisco.

The men were among a local group of more than 30 suspected MS-13 members charged by federal authorities in 2008.

Some already have pleaded guilty to various charges. The seven now on trial are accused of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder and use of guns in violent crimes. Five of the seven are accused in four gang-related homicides in The City in 2008.

All the suspects in both the new indictments and the ongoing trial are suspected members of the 20th Street clique of the gang, based at 20th and Mission streets in the Mission district.

In court Wednesday, a suspected former second-in-command of the gang, Jaime Martinez, 31, testified for the prosecution. He said after being arrested in late 2005 and facing deportation, he agreed in early 2006 to become a federal informant.

Martinez said he was paid for reporting on the gang’s activities and occasionally purchased drugs and guns under the supervision of federal agents. As a result, he said he was allowed to stay in the U.S., where most of his family lives.

During that same time, he also admitted to engaging in “acts of violence” and other illegal activities that authorities had forbidden him to do.

And another alleged MS-13 member, Edwin Ramos, is awaiting trial in San Francisco Superior Court in connection with the 2008 murders of a father and two of his sons. His trial is scheduled to begin at the end of May.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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