Three MS-13 gang members were sentenced to 27 years in prison this morning for the 2010 murder of a cook in Daly City when they mistook him for a rival gang member, federal prosecutors said. Davie Jimmy Mejia-Sensente, 31, Carlos Mejia-Quintanilla, 25, and Luis Amilar-Zanus, 35, pleaded guilty in July of the June 21, 2010, murder of Alexander Temaj-Castanon after he got off a bus in Daly City.
The three defendants joined the La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang in El Salvador more than a decade ago. The gang has members all over North and Central America, including in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and the U.S. Federal investigators believe that MS-13 gangs based in the U.S. regularly communicate with gang leaders in Central America to coordinate drug and weapons trafficking.
One rule of the gang is that members must seek out and kill rival gang members, including their principal rivals in the Northern California area, the Nortenos, according to prosecutors. It was because Temaj-Castanon, a cook at Baby Blues BBQ in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, looked like a Norteno member that the three killers targeted him on a 14-Mission bus to Daly City as he was riding home from work.
The three men followed Temaj-Castanon off the bus just after midnight near Mission Street and San Jose Avenue and, after waiting until no one was around, Mejia-Quintanilla took a gun from Mejia-Sensente’s backpack and shot Temaj-Castanon, knocking him to the ground. Mejia-Sensente took the gun and shot him again, prosecutors said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police investigated the murder for months, finally arresting Mejia-Sensente, Mejia-Quintanilla, and Luis Amilar-Zanus in September. They were indicted by a federal grand jury in 2011. They pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy and racketeering charges for their involvement in MS-13, murder, and using a firearm to further the racketeering conspiracy.
Mejia-Sensente also pleaded guilty to being an illegal alien in possession of ammunition and Amilar-Zanas, an MS-13 member since 1991, pleaded guilty to illegally re-entering the U.S. after being deported, prosecutors said. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer sentenced all three to 27 years in federal prison at a hearing this morning, prosecutors said. Federal sentences have no possibility of parole.
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