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SUR 13


Sur 13 T.L.S.
Sur 13


Federal sweep nabs 70 in Atlanta gang Crimes range from drugs to murder

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA) August 9, 2005 Author: DON PLUMMER

More than 70 members of a violent Hispanic gang have been arrested or deported in an effort to dismantle the leadership of the group in metro Atlanta, federal officials said Monday.

Eighteen people in the Sur-13 gang were charged with violent crimes including murder, carjacking, armed robbery and drug dealing, said U.S. Attorney David Nahmias. Others were charged with crimes including immigration violations. The indictment did not name victims.

"Members of Sur-13 were responsible for a significant amount of drug and violent crime occurring within Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb counties over the last several years," Nahmias said. The 18 were charged under federal racketeering and drug conspiracy statutes so the gang's entire leadership could be charged, he said.

Two of the 18 -- Jose Tapia, 22, and Emanuel Avilia-Villasana, 21, both of Atlanta -- were still being sought Monday, officials said.

A sealed indictment was returned by a federal grand jury July 12. It was unsealed Friday, and the arrests were made over the weekend, Nahmias said. The crimes involved go back to 1997, and the indictment capped a two-year investigation of the activities of Sur-13, he said.

In addition to the 18 gang leaders, the operation resulted in the arrest and federal prosecution of seven Sur-13 gang members, the deportation of more than 50 other members and the seizure of 13 firearms and $7,000 in cash, Nahmias said.

Another 11 members of the gang who were residing illegally in the United States and will probably face administrative deportation also were arrested over the weekend, said Kenneth Smith, Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent in charge.

Sur-13 is a Hispanic street gang that originated in California and is now active in metro Atlanta, authorities said. Members often identify with the symbols "XIII," "X3," "13" and three dots. The "13" refers to the 13th letter of the alphabet, M, which stands for "Mexican Mafia." The gang also identifies with the color blue and the words "Surenos" and "Sur." "Surenos" translates to "Southerner."

The local arrests were part of a nationwide sweep of gang members over several weeks that so far has resulted in the apprehension of more than 600 people, Smith said. The arrests included 61 in Boston, 42 in Birmingham and 23 in Los Angeles, Department of Homeland Security officials said.

Nationwide, the suspects represent more than 54 street gangs, including Mara Salvatrucha, a Central American group known broadly as MS-13.

While the Atlanta arrests were limited to Sur-13, Nahmias said

MS-13 and other gangs also are being targeted.

"This effort focused on Sur-13, but there will be more in the future, and leaders of other gangs should know that they may be next on our list," he said.