• 2 more reach plea agreements in MS-13 gang case

    By: Blake Hanson

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Two more people indicted in a massive case involving the MS-13 gang have reached plea agreements, according to court records.
     
    The agreements were filed regarding Luis Funes Rivera and Jose Moran Celis.
     
    If they go through with the pleas, it would bring the total number to reach agreements to 17 of the 37 indicted last May.

    PHOTOS: Feds indict 37 suspected MS-13 gang members in roundup

    Officials began rounding up 37 alleged gang members and associates in May as part of a sweeping Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations case targeting the notorious gang.

    The documents filed with Funes Rivera's plea agreement include new information about the gang's initiation process.

    PAST COVERAGE: Feds indict 37 suspected MS-13 gang members in Charlotte area roundup

    Prosecutors describe what unfolded at an Oct. 16, 2013, shooting outside an apartment building near Central Avenue. 

    Funes Rivera, Milton Chavarria and Alexis Villalta-Morales drove to that area, investigators said.
     
    Prosecutors said Villalta-Morales was instructed by the other two to "shoot the first black guy that passed."
     
    The alleged scenario describes Villalta-Morales approaching the victim from behind with a gun pointed at him.
     
    The victim pleaded, "No, no, no," according to the document.
     
    The victim was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, according to a police report filed that day.
     
    Experts on gangs suggest initiation practices are normally not that extreme.
     
    "Those sorts of higher-level criminal activities, because they draw a lot of attention to the gang, are going to be less common," said Shannon Reid, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
     
    It's not clear if any of the suspects will go to trial. People with knowledge of these types of investigations said the cases are usually drawn out and can lead to more arrests.
     
    "One case sort of spawns other cases, really, across the country," said Chris Swecker, former FBI assistant director. 

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