Tom Diaz

Chandra, Ingmar, and MS-13–Crossing the Devil’s Path

In Crime, Gangs, Latino gangs on May 8, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Hick1: Down in Texas, where I come from, we just go out and get a man and string him up.

Hick2: That’s right!

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

Ingmar Guandique Is Accused of Slaying Chandra Levy on a Trail in Washington, DC's Rock Creek Park

Ingmar Guandique, Shown in Booking Photo From Earlier Crimes, Is Accused of Slaying Chandra Levy on a Trail in Washington, DC's Rock Creek Park

The news media couldn’t get enough of former Congressman Gary Condit in 2001.  Shortly after Chandra Levy, an intern in his office, went missing, it was revealed that Condit and Levy had an affair.  Stephen Marshall’s Guerrilla News Network pretty fairly sums up the frenzy here:

For months until the morning the Twin Towers were hit, it was Condit — not bin Laden — who was the most despised man in America. Especially on cable news, where Condit was linked week after week to murder, with no end to speculation about how he’d caused the tragedy. Perhaps Levy died during rough sex with the congressman. Or her death was connected to Condit’s ex-con brother. Or Condit’s buddies in a motorcycle gang. Or because Levy was pregnant with Condit’s baby.

Smart, “sophisticated” people — some of  whom as lawyers should have known better — were standing in line to string up Condit.  Tyburn Gallows was too good for this murderous creep. Queen of Hearts: “Sentence first! Verdict afterward.”

The so-called “main stream media” was equally culpable of rushing to judgment:

A few newspapers also fed the frenzy. The Washington Post published a page 1 exclusive about an alleged affair Condit had years earlier with a teenage girl. The story was based on the girl’s father, a minister, who later admitted he concocted the tale.

Condit Got Ox-Bow Lynch Mob Treatment in 2001

Condit Got Ox-Bow Lynch Mob Treatment in 2001

Eight years later, life and death have moved on, as they curiously enough always do.

And now, according to charges brought in Washington, it turns out that a Salvadoran immigrant named Ingmar Guandique, a member of the notorious transnational Latino gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), may have waylaid Levy and murdered her in a remote section of a trail in Washington’s popular Rock Creek Park.  Guandique was already serving time for other attacks in the park when he was arrested and charged with Levy’s murder.

Putting aside Condit’s lynching — and don’t expect any media apologies — several things struck me about this case after reading a detailed affidavit in support of the arrest warrant.

One is the savagery with which Guandique apparently acted.  This is a hallmark of MS-13.  According to the FBI, most of the crimes committed by MS-13 “are exceedingly violent.”

I write in detail in my book on MS-13 and other transnational Latino gangs (18th Street and Latin Kings in particular) about three particularly brutal murders in Texas and Virginia committed by MS-13 gangsters.  All of them involved remorseless hacking with knives.  I also tell the story of a Christmas Eve massacre on a bus in Honduras led by an MS gangster known as El Culiche, “The Tapeworm.”  [No Boundaries: Transnational Latino Gangs and American Law Enforcement (University of Michigan Press) will be released next month (June 2009).  It is available now for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other internet book stores.]

"Mara Salvatrucha" Tattoo, Clearly Visible in Latest Perp Walk Photo, Was Not Present in Earlier Booking Photo (See Above)

"Mara Salvatrucha" Tattoo, Clearly Visible in Latest Perp Walk Photo, Was Not Present in Earlier Booking Photo (See Above)

Another thing is the puzzle of exactly when Guandique joined MS-13.   The news media mentioned Guandique’s membership in stories about his recent arrest, but none to my knowledge explored it in depth.  When did he join, for example?  Mug shots from Guandique’s earlier arrest clearly do not show any facial or neck tattoos (see above photo).  But in a “perp walk” photo shot at the time of his most recent arrest, he sports a flamboyant MS tattoo on his neck.  The arrest warrant also describes tattoos on Guandique’s body, including among others the “devil’s horns” which is also an MS-13 “gang sign” (a recognition conceit “thrown” with hands and fingers):

Thus, when officers arrested Guandique at Victorville Correctional Institute in Adelanto, California:

Your affiant observed many gang-related tattoos on Guandique’s body, including the words “Mara Salvatrucha” on his neck, a picture of a devil on the top of his head, an image of the character “Chuckie” holding a knife on his back, and a naked female on his chest, as well as the letters “M” and “S.” Additionally, a photograph of Chandra Levy, appearing to have been taken from a magazine, was recovered from Guandique’s cell.

No one who is not a “jumped in” member of MS would dare to wear these tattoos, certainly not in a prison.  That false flag would be a self-executing death warrant.

Object example: A few years ago, a young man in Northern Virginia boasted of his membership in the Salvadoran gang while ordering at a fast food restaurant.  Unfortunately for him, two genuine MS-13  members were present.  They beat him to death when he couldn’t back up his claim.

Gunadique's Was Nicknamed "Chucky," Allegedly Because of His Predilection for Hacking People Up

Guandique Was Nicknamed "Chucky," Allegedly Because of His Predilection for Hacking People Up

So clearly Guandique is MS now.  But was he a member all along, including at the time of the alleged murder?  Or was he recruited in prison?  I don’t know.  One of the witnesses quoted in the affidavit appears to be talking about a long history with MS:

W10 stated that it [sic] has known Guandique for many years. During the course of several conversations between W10 and Guandique, Guandique boasted to W10 that he was a member of MS-13 and that he committed many robberies. Guandique boasted further that he was known as “Chuckie [sic],” because he had a reputation for killing and chopping up people. Guandique also confided to W10 his thoughts about women. Specifically, Guandique told W10 that he committed many crimes against women, including rapes. Guandique stated that he and his gang members grabbed girls that they liked and wanted, as follows: Guandique said that he would hide on a dirt path and wait for the girl to walk by. He would then lasso the girl around the neck and tie her hands and feet together behind her back to prevent her from scratching or kicking him…Guandique admitted that he did not always know whether his victims were still alive at the end of the attack, but that it did not matter, because they would be eaten by animals…

This matter of how long Guandique was a member of MS-13 will no doubt be cleared up at trial (something Rep. Gary Condit never got before his verdict and sentence).

Finally, the affidavit supporting Guandique’s arrest pretty clearly lays out the government’s theory of the case and supporting evidence.  Although the so-called “CSI defense” (lack of forensic evidence such as DNA, etc.) will no doubt be raised by the defense — as it was in the trial of a tragic “collateral damage” murder of a 7-year old in Chicago that I write about in No Boundaries — the government has a strong circumstantial case, including other statements and eye-witness identifications from female victims Guandique attacked in the park, and Guandique’s own jail house statements.

For example, one of the women who was attacked by Guandique in the park broke free using a self-defense technique involving digging her fingernails into his soft palate. She later identified Guandique and had this to say of him:

I do not doubt for a minute that he purposefully stalked me as a hunter tracks his prey. I know in my gut, that given the chance, he would not hesitate to repeat his crime on some other woman and it scares me to think what would happen if she was not prepared with some sort of self defense.

Guandique also wrote letters to another witness (“W9”) in which he admitted to killing a woman in the park:

W9 said that during the course of these communications Guandique wrote that he spent time in a park in D.C. and that he was responsible for the murder of a young woman. W9 became nervous of Guandique given that he had admitted to killing a young woman and later, during a recorded telephone conversation with Guandique, questioned him about the murder. During the recorded conversation Guandique acknowledged that he had told W9 about the “girl who’s dead.”

The affidavit lays out a much stronger case against Guandique than one might gather exists based on reading or watching news accounts.  However, Ingmar Guandique is, of course, entitled to the presumption of innocence at law.

So was Gary Condit.

That and a dog would have gotten him one friend in Washington in 2001.

MS "Devil's Horns" Gang Sign

MS "Devil's Horns" Gang Sign

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