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Judge dismisses case against alleged MS-13 leader, releases him from custody

A federal judge in Las Vegas has dismissed a case against a man accused of being a high-ranking leader in the international MS-13 gang.

Prosecutors filed court documents on Thursday moving to dismiss the indictment against Adali Arnulfo Escalante-Trujillo, after learning about “events that cast doubt on the credibility of a government witness who is integral to prosecution of this defendant,” according to the motion.

The motion did not elaborate on the identity of the witness or why the witness’ actions are being questioned.

U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware granted the motion Friday. The judge dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning prosecutors would be able to file the charges again in the future.

Escalante-Trujillo’s defense attorney, Chris Rasmussen, confirmed that his client was released on Friday from a federal detention facility in Pahrump.

Prosecutors announced the indictment against Escalante-Trujillo and 12 others in Nevada in July 2020. In the indictment, Escalante-Trujillo was described as the gang’s “shot-caller,” who was accused of bringing other high-ranking members of MS-13 to Las Vegas to distribute drugs and sell guns.

MS-13 is a transnational gang made up primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, and it has operated in the U.S. since at least the 1980s.

In court documents filed in November, Rasmussen argued that communication between Escalante-Trujillo and two government confidential informants was not properly preserved as evidence.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

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