Washington, D.C./ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 14, 2024
18th Street Gang's Reign of Terror Ends, Six Convicted of Racketeering and Murder From D.C. to Central AmericaSource: Wikipedia/AgnosticPreachersKid, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Six toughs from the notorious “18th Street” gang were nailed on charges including racketeering, murder, and kidnapping, officials said Monday. The gangsters, who had been shaking down neighborhoods from D.C. to Central America, were convicted after a jury deliberated for three days in U.S. District Court, according to the Department of Justice.

The verdict was a slam dunk for the prosecutors after a trial that commenced on April 10 and ended last week, with sentencing dates to quickly follow in September and October. The gang they were looking to finally put away operates widely, with tentacles reaching into Virginia, Maryland, and known for spreading brutal violence like wildfire to keep their turf under iron-fist control.

Among the convicted was Jexon Madrid-Flores, who authorities say tried to gun down a rival gang member in broad daylight, at a Columbia Heights convenience store. Prosecutors presented evidence at trial showing Madrid-Flores shooting the victim, with hopes of climbing the ranks within the savage 18th Street gang.

According to trial evidence, the gang didn't just try to silence their rivals; they also believed in taking out their own. One member, known as FIRE was taken to the woods near Elkton, MD, and mercilessly executed by his fellow gang members over suspected disloyalty. This raw example of their handiwork was part of a series of murders that were centered upon during the investigation.

U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, spearheading the prosecution, alongside multiple agencies including the FBI and ICE, led the charge against the violent outfit. The operation, spanning several years, culminated in this significant blow against the gang's heinous activities. Graves and his team told the press they're not letting up, with another round of trials set to hash out the fates of additional members in July.

The gang, with a membership estimated to be around 50,000, has a long history that started on the streets of Los Angeles, with its members adhering to a strict code of violence and mayhem. The DOJ release detailed 18th Street's moneymaking operations ranging from narcotics to arms dealing and emphasized the substantial efforts by federal, state, and local agencies to dismantle such a robust criminal network.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jack Korba, Will Hart, and Sitara Witanachchi prosecuted the case, with a little help from their retired colleague, Gilead Light, and Christopher Marin from the district's office.