Criminal Justice

Seven alleged members of prison gangs charged in Beaumont inmate killings

The deaths of two inmates at the federal facility in East Texas led to a dayslong lockdown of the country’s prison system.

Associated Press
A Federal Bureau of Prisons truck drives past barbed wire fences at the Federal Medical Center prison in Fort Worth, Texas in May 2020.

The Department of Justice has brought charges against seven alleged gang members who are accused of murdering two inmates inside a federal prison in East Texas earlier this year.

The killings happened on January 31 at the federal prison in Beaumont and involved incarcerated members of the MS-13 gang, who the Department of Justice said attacked rival gang members. The incident led to a dayslong lockdown of the federal prison system.

"The charges in the Indictment relate to the planning and execution of a violent attack orchestrated by members of MS-13 against Mexican Mafia and Sureños associates that resulted in two deaths, two attempted murders, and a nationwide lockdown of all inmates in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for almost a week," said a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice's Eastern District of Texas.

According to the statement, the attack lasted about three minutes and began when Juan Carlos Rivas-Moreiera — a 41-year-old native of El Salvador nicknamed "Stocky" — attacked Guillermo Riojas and stabbed him twice in the chest. The other members of the MS-13 gang then continued to attack Riojas after he fell to the ground. Riojas died after the attack, which included wounds to his heart and lungs, the DOJ said.

The other victim, Andrew Pineda, died when he was "chased, cornered, beat and repeatedly” stabbed" by MS-13 gang members. He was stabbed more than 45 times.

"Transnational violent gangs are a significant threat to our national security whether they are entrenched within our communities or incarcerated in our correctional facilities," Homeland Security Investigations Houston Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson said in the statement. "This indictment demonstrates our commitment to disrupting and dismantling this threat."

The Bureau of Prisons released a statement saying, "Aside from the COVID-19 Modified Operations, the United States Penitentiary (USP) Beaumont is operating under normal operations. "

The other defendants include: Dimas Alfaro-Granado, 39; Raul Landaverde-Giron, 32; Larry Navarete, 41; Jorge Parada, 42; Hector Ramires, 28; and Sergio Sibrian, 29. The group is collectively charged with 15 counts that include charges of Racketeering Conspiracy and Murder in Aid of Racketeering, among other crimes. The charges carry possible sentences of life in prison or the death penalty, according to the statement.

The MS-13 gang, also known by its longer moniker, La Mara Salvatrucha, was a prison gang that formed in California several decades ago. It grew and expanded in Central America, specifically in El Salvador, after the deportations of gang members to their native countries in the 1980s and 1990s. That county's civil war also helped fuel the gang's ruthlessness. The tentacles of the notorious group have since spread to other parts of Latin America and the United States, including Texas.

The Department of Justice said in a statement that while the Mexican Mafia and its affiliates, including the Sureños, had a partnership with the MS-13, there has been a recent split after leadership in El Salvador "sought to exert more control and independence of its own members while incarcerated in prisons within the United States."

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required