California MS-13 leader who hammered three Ohio men to death 'as a message' from feared gang jailed for life
COLUMBUS, OHIO: A Santa Maria, California man was sentenced in a federal court in Columbus today to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of release.
Jose Bonilla-Mejia (aka Espia), 31, participated in the 2015 murders of two men who were stabbed and beaten to death and buried in shallow graves at Innis Park. Bonilla-Mejia also played a role in planning a 2016 murder at an apartment complex at Melroy Avenue and Kelburn Road in Columbus. The three murders Bonilla-Mejia took part in were of Carlos Serrano-Ramos, Wilson Villeda and Salvador Martinez-Diaz.
Bonilla-Mejia pleaded guilty in August 2019 to participating in a racketeering conspiracy and two counts of murder in aid of racketeering.
The defendant is one of 23 individuals charged in a February 2018 indictment and are alleged to be members and associates of MS-13 in Columbus.
“This is a violent transnational criminal organization that victimizes the citizens of the United States and Central America,” US Attorney David M DeVillers said. “Mr Bonilla-Mejia personally participated in the murders and mutilations of victims with the purpose of sending a message from MS-13. With this sentence, we are sending a message back. Mr Bonilla-Mejia and many of his coconspirators will die in prison.”
The defendants are charged in a racketeering conspiracy, which includes five murders as well as attempted murder, extortion, money laundering, drug trafficking, assault, obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, weapons offenses and immigration-related violations.
The second superseding indictment alleges that the defendants committed a host of overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, including the December 2006 murder of Jose Mendez, a suspected confidential informant, in Perry County; the November 2008 murder of Ramon Ramos on Lockbourne Road in Columbus; the mid-2015 murder of Carlos Serrano-Ramos, a suspected rival gang member, near Innis Road in Columbus; the November 2015 murder of Wilson Villeda near Innis Road in Columbus; and the December 2016 murder of Salvador Martinez-Diaz, a suspected rival gang member, on Melroy Avenue in Columbus.
The murders often involved defendants using weapons like machetes, knives and hammers to attack and beat their victims to death.
In March 2016, law enforcement officers arrested Bonilla-Mejia in Akron, Ohio in connection with an outstanding warrant issued in California. Shortly thereafter, he was transported to California and detained in the Santa Barbara County Jail before returning to Ohio to face his federal charges.