US-wanted Mara Salvatrucha leader José Wilfredo Ayala arrested in Mexico City

Mexico City authorities collaborate with CNI and INM to capture high-ranking MS-13 leader, wanted in the US for terrorism and extortion charges.

A member of the criminal gang organization known as the “Mara Salvatrucha” was arrested by Mexico City authorities in Mexico City, announced the head of the Secretariat of Citizen Security (SSC), Omar García Harfuch.

The capture of this subject – identified as José Wilfredo Ayala – was carried out by personnel from the SSC, the National Intelligence Center (CNI), and the National Migration Institute (INM), according to information shared on Tuesday morning.

According to preliminary reports, the member of the criminal group was wanted by US authorities, as he has an arrest warrant in the United States. He has also been identified for his alleged responsibility in the federal crimes of homicide, robbery, and possession of firearms.

Although Mexico City authorities have not disclosed the location of his arrest, security journalist Antonio Nieto reported that this criminal member’s capture occurred in the streets of the Cuauhtemoc district.

El ahora detenido habría cometido un homicidio en Texas, EEUU (Foto: Twitter@siete_letras)
The now-detained man allegedly committed a homicide in Texas, USA (Photo: [email protected]_letras)

According to the author of El Cártel Chilango, this subject was allegedly hiding from the authorities in Hidalgo and Mexico City as he was being pursued by the justice system in Texas, where he had allegedly participated in a homicide. Because he entered Mexican territory with false papers, federal authorities detected him and proceeded to arrest him.

The photos shared on social networks show that the arrested man has multiple tattoos on his chest and back, some of which have the phrase “Mara Salvatrucha” engraved on them. The Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) identified Wilfredo as a “top leader” of this criminal organization, as he operated in El Salvador, Mexico, and the United States, where he engaged in extortion and drug distribution.

On September 22, 2022, an arrest warrant was issued for Wilfredo, who also went by the alias of El Indio de Hollywood. The charges filed in the Eastern District Court of New York involved a conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and extortion.

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Mara salvatrucha in mexico

This criminal organization is also known as MS13. It is one of the most famous and violent criminal gangs in Latin America, as its presence extends to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala (although its beginnings date back to the 1980s in Los Angeles, United States).

Los pandilleros de la Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) tienen presencia en El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala (Foto: REUTERS / José Cabezas)
Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang members are present in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala (Photo: REUTERS / José Cabezas).

Their name is derived from the term “mara,” which refers to Central American gangs. At the same time, the word “Salva” is an abbreviation for El Salvador, and “Trucha” is part of the street language meaning witty or clever, according to Insight Crime reports.

As the Mara Salvatrucha has expanded territorially, its tentacles have reached dozens of Mexican states, where they commit crimes such as extortion against migrants. This is part of the so-called “Mexico Program,” through which the gang members seek to settle in Mexico.

Mexico City and the State of Mexico have not been the exception, as several of their members have been arrested in these states. The most recent example of this was the capture of Melvin David Cruz Ortiz, alias Bigfoot, who was also wanted by the United States on federal charges of homicide and organized crime in Florida.

Intelligence reports indicate that Bigfoot moved around the Mexican municipalities of Nezahualcóyotl and Cuautitlán Izcalli, as well as the central zone of Mexico City. This was because he had committed at least eight homicides in the United States, which is why the Salvadoran was considered violent.

The investigations indicate that Melvin was part of the criminal group Guanacos Lil Cycos Salvatruchas(GLCS), which belongs to the Mara Salvatrucha MS-13. Based on his criminal history, the FBI sent a request for cooperation to Mexico to capture him, which was carried out at a property in the San Juan Acomitla neighborhood in Cuautitlán Izcalli at the beginning of February.