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Thursday, 25 September 2008

Hector Sanhueza, Manual Pasos, Murder conspiracy investigation culminate in GTA-wide raids on a suspected local faction of the MS-13

murder conspiracy investigation and culminate in GTA-wide raids on a suspected local faction of the MS-13, which stands for Mara Salvatrucha-13, one of the world's most vicious gangs. Eventually the case would build to 13,000 pages of evidence against 17 suspected gang members, including surveillance reports, arrest and occurrence reports, synopses of each facet of the case, digital number recorders that detail the calls made between cellphones and the criminal histories of all of those involved – but no transcripts or tapes of intercepted conversations."There are no conversations in which anyone agreed to do anything," said criminal lawyer Jeffry House, who represents Luis Salas Reyes, one of the accused."I've dealt with more than 60 conspiracy cases in my 30-year career and that's commonly done to build a case."That case has now all but fallen apart. Conspiracy to commit murder charges have been stayed for Hector Sanhueza, 32, Manual Pasos, 19, Ronald Morataya-Cruz, 27, and Luis Salas-Reyes, 32. Only Jorge Salas, 29, the man involved in the initial conversation at Maplehurst, remains charged in the murder plot and for uttering death threats. During a series of pre-dawn raids across the GTA on June 5, those five individuals and another four people were charged with participating in a criminal organization. All of those charges have been stayed, the Ontario Crown attorney's office confirmed yesterday. All that remains of the once sweeping investigation are a handful of drug offences, such as simple possession, and a number of firearms offences. Court documents say the conspiracy came to light in March when a jailhouse informant told a correctional officer of a plan to murder him, his wife or his children. On Jan. 8, the documents say, the officer had taken pictures of Salas' tattoos. At the time, that didn't seem to be a problem.
But on March 20, the documents say, the informant, an inmate named Maxwell Robinson, told the officer Salas said he had spoken to his "boss," who was angry that his tattoos had been photographed. To appease his boss, Salas said, he had to "deal with" the officer who took the pictures. Robinson then asked, the documents say: "What do you mean, do you have to kill him or his family?" And the accused responded, "That's it, I'll have to kill him or a member of his family." "How real is this threat?" House asked yesterday. "This doesn't prove anything. And jailhouse informants are generally known to be quite deceptive. It all comes down to just the words of this one guy in jail."
According to House, court documents also show that while Robinson "asked for nothing in return for the statement," he was an agricultural labourer and Jamaican immigrant with no legal status in Canada, possibly fighting deportation.
Robinson was in jail for assaulting his girlfriend with a weapon, House said.
In terms of evidence linking his client or any of the others to membership in the MS-13, there was "nothing" contained in the voluminous evidence file that proved anything more than a tenuous connection, House said. More than 100 surveillance and search videos contain little more than the odd frame of the word "MS-13" written on the wall of a home, or on the side of a building.


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