SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco police and the top prosecutor in Northern California announced a federal indictment Friday against 17 men with ties to a street gang in the city's Mission District.
The defendants have been charged in connection with a series of violent attacks dating back several years that involved the MS-13 gang.
Investigators released surveillance video showing one of the attacks. The video shows two custodians getting attacked by a group of men outside Little Star Pizza at 15th and Valencia in August.
The victims, who are brothers, were on a smoke break when they were kicked, punched and hit with everything from a broom handle to a plastic cooler.
"These arrests should provide a sense of comfort and relief to the residents," said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott.
At a news conference, Scott joined U.S. Attorney David Anderson in announcing a successful crackdown on a gang that terrorized victims they believed were rivals.
In 2017, Elmer Rodriguez allegedly tried to extort a drug dealer in the Tenderloin and used a shotgun "that was fired at such a close range against the intended victim, that the shotgun wad lodged in the chest of the victim," Anderson said.
Four days later, investigators say Oscar Espinal and Edwin Amaya stabbed a victim at a Muni bus stop at 24th and Potrero.
"The result of the attack was 15 stab wounds," Anderson said. "The victim lost two liters of blood."
Another incident happened in 2018 at Dolores Park, which MS-13 claims as its territory.
"A brutal beating and stabbing," Anderson said. "The victim suffered a head injury and stab wounds to the back, throat and neck."
Charged in that attack were Rogelio Aleman, Kenneth Campos and Kevin Melendez.
Almost exactly a year later, Fernando Bonilla,one of those indicted in the crackdown, was shot in the park .
"Our parks and playgrounds and other public spaces do not belong to transnational criminal organizations," Anderson said. "Our public spaces belong to all of us."
Tatum King, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, agreed, saying the defendants "operate freely with no consideration for the location of the people that they terrorize and exploit."
Scott said, "We will diligently investigate crimes and present the best possible case to proseuctors in order to protect our city."