Accused of killing someone in Texas and torching the victim’s body, an MS-13 gang member’s run from federal authorities ended Tuesday in the Charleston area, local officials said.
Franklin Platero-Rodriguez, 21, was found with a 9 mm pistol when he was arrested while leaving a Subway restaurant on U.S. Highway 78 in Ladson, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office said. He had been living on Lyn Drive.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told Fox News that Platero-Rodriguez, through a loophole, was able to enter the country as an unaccompanied alien child (UAC) — an illegal immigrant under the age of 18 who’s entered the country. Source – Fox News
Law enforcement officials in Walker County, Texas, just north of Houston, had issued a warrant for Platero-Rodriguez’s arrest on a murder charge.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents also were looking for him on a 2014 charge of failing to appear for a court hearing.
MS-13 started in Los Angeles in the 1980s but has spread throughout the Americas. Its members have become a special target of federal authorities lately, with agents rounding up 796 gang members and associates in 2017 – an 83 percent increase over the last year, the government said.
President Donald Trump’s White House earlier this week said the administration “is working tirelessly to bring these violent animals to justice.”
Trump on Wednesday pushed for the tightening of immigration laws that he said have contributed to the gang’s spread in the United States.
Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said Platero-Rodriguez had been deported before returning to the country illegally.
Detectives also are investigating whether Platero-Rodriguez was involved in a home invasion earlier Tuesday in which a gunman wounded a resident and stole some valuables, a sheriff’s spokesman said. That crime happened on the same street where Platero-Rodriguez had been living.
“I don’t see an indication that the MS-13 gang is here in Berkeley County,” Lewis said. “I want the folks in Berkeley County to rest assured.”
But Lewis said he didn’t know why Platero-Rodriguez wound up here and settled in for a few weeks.
When he was caught, Platero-Rodriguez was wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of a dog and the words “Pitbull … dangerous.”
A sheriff’s statement alleged Platero-Rodriguez had shot someone in Texas earlier this spring before pouring gasoline on a car and burning it with the victim’s body in the trunk. After the slaying, he drove to South Carolina in the same stolen Ford F-150 that he had used in the slaying, sheriff’s officials said.
A fugitive task force from the U.S. Marshals Service that includes local officers stopped Platero-Rodriguez as he climbed into the truck Tuesday outside the sandwich shop. They found the handgun in one of his pockets, they said.
Among the other charges, he faces counts in Berkeley County of unlawfully carrying a firearm, possessing a stolen pistol and being a fugitive in possession of a gun.
“Platero-Rodriguez is a dangerous MS-13 gang member,” Lewis added, “and I am glad that we were able to locate and arrest him without him being able to cause further harm.”
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