MS-13 gang members arrested in Rowan County
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ROWAN COUNTY — Two members of the gang MS-13 were arrested in Rowan County Monday.
One of those men, Wilfredo Reyes, 31, was a fugitive wanted for a triple murder in San Francisco. The other was Jose Mejia, 25, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador.
Don Franklin has lived at his home next door to the suspects for almost 10 years. He said it has always been a quiet neighborhood.
"[I] never got any bad vibes from them. I think I saw them maybe once or twice and they waved Hi both times," said Franklin.
Reyes was on the run since murdering two boys and their father in San Francisco in 2008. He was staying with Mejia who is charged with harboring a fugitive and weapon and cocaine possession.
"Certainly when someone is charged with three murders you're concerned about any unsolved violent crimes that would connect or any similar type [motives]," said Sheriff Kevin Auten.
Auten said gang members like Mejia and Reyes typically hide out in areas like Rowan County that don't have a 287-G program, which gives local authorities the ability to identify and detain illegal immigrants who are in custody.
"We've received information that they intentionally avoid those counties that do have that," said Auten.
Detectives said the two men lived here for about two months. Auten said it is likely MS-13 members are still in Rowan County. Even though the arrests have not heightened patrols, they serve as a reminder.
"I wouldn't say this sent us to another level, but it certainly makes you aware that these guys can be anywhere," said Auten.
"After the fact, you know, hindsight is always 20/20, it was a little bit disturbing," said Franklin.
Both subjects are in the Rowan County Detention Center. Reyes will face murder charges when he is extradited to San Francisco as well as being a fugitive from justice. Mejia will be tried in Rowan County.
Their court dates have yet to be set.