2 gang members arrested on Maui
The men are part of a Hispanic gang known for violence
Two members of one of the largest and most violent Hispanic gangs in the country were identified and arrested on Maui earlier this year, local police and federal law enforcement officials said yesterday.
Adin Coca and Francisco Orlando Osegueda-Gochez were arrested in February for crimes on Maui and were identified by members of the Maui Police Department gang detail as having an affiliation with the Salvadoran gang Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, officials said.
Though neither man was arrested for offenses directly involving gang activity, federal officials said they were worried about gang members' presence in Hawaii because of the violence to which MS-13 has been linked.
"MS-13 smuggles illicit drugs, primarily powdered cocaine and marijuana, into the United States and are known to transport and distribute the drugs throughout the country," said U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo. "They are also involved in alien smuggling, assault, drive-by shooting, homicides, ID theft, prostitution operations, robbery and weapons trafficking."
According to the FBI and other federal officials, members of MS-13 in other states have also been affiliated with hacking off the fingers of their rivals with machetes, murdering suspected informants -- one of them a 17-year-old pregnant girl -- and attacking and threatening law enforcement officers, including the execution of three federal agents. The organization reportedly has 30,000 to 50,000 members internationally, of which 8,000 to 10,000 are in the United States.
The two MS arrests on Maui were part of Operation Shield, a nationwide anti-gang initiative led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Working with county police, FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office, Operation Shield arrested, and in most cases deported, a total of nine foreign gang members statewide.
"Street gangs pose a growing public safety threat to communities throughout the state of Hawaii," said Wayne Willis, special agent in charge for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Honolulu. "The violence, sophistication and scope of these organizations have reached intolerable levels in larger metropolitan areas."
Some, like Coca, were arrested for nongang-related offenses such as driving under the influence, domestic abuse and contempt of court warrants but were later identified as gang members through tattoos and other gang paraphernalia. Coca admitted being an MS-13 member, and he identified Osegueda-Gochez as another member, officials said.
Maui detective Clyde Holokai said Coca had been living on Maui for eight years and was working in the construction business but was still getting new MS-related tattoos.
"He had one with the demon with devil horns. ... That one was fresh," Holokai said. "He wasn't active but the affiliation was there."
Osegueda-Gochez was said to have an alias complete with a fake green card and fake Social Security card, which were used to get on a domestic flight to Hawaii and get employment on Maui. The other gang members who were deported by federal officials include:
» Cuong Ricky Hoang, member of the Vietnamese Black Crew, arrested April 5. Honolulu police officials said Hoang was involved in a home invasion robbery in Colorado and was considered armed and dangerous.
» Javier Martinez Arrellano, member of the Mexican 18th Street gang out of Los Angeles, arrested Aug. 23. Federal officials said he has illegally entered the United States three times and been deported three times and that prior convictions include carrying a concealed weapon and grand theft auto. When Maui police tried to arrest him for disorderly conduct in August, he was allegedly trying to run over one officer while yelling gang slogans in Spanish.
» Edgar Pacheco-Rojo, a 17-year-old member of the Mexican 13th Street gang out of California, arrested Nov. 29 on Maui for possession of burglary tools, auto theft and a drug offense.
» Tu Huang, member of the Vietnamese Black Crew, arrested Dec. 21 in Kahuku. Huang along with Hoang fled to Hawaii after being sought by Colorado police for a home invasion robbery there.
» Christian Alberto Apodaca-Flores, member of the Mexican Surenos gang, an umbrella organization in California that includes the 18th Street gang. Maui police arrested Apodaca-Flores on Feb. 11 for driving without a license.
» Alejandro Arroyo-Rivas, member of the Mexican Surenos gang, arrested Feb. 28 for possessing false identification.
» Gregory Yoo Baik Nagao of South Korea, member of the CIRCO Boys gang in Honolulu. He was arrested March 2, and prior convictions include first-degree robbery and possession of a sawed-off shotgun. Federal officials said he came to Hawaii as a child and was here legally in the United States but violated his green card by his felony convictions.
Kubo said with the war on terror, federal law enforcement agencies have had to put domestic problems such as gangs on the back burner, something they cannot afford to do any longer.
"We will aggressively investigate and prosecute any member of these vicious gangs who are a threat to the safety and welfare of our citizens in Hawaii," Kubo said. "If we don't get on top of this now, it's going to get on top of us."