News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 18, 2013

Man faces federal weapons charges, claims MS-13 gang ties

TERRE HAUTE — A former Indianapolis man who claims to associate with a violent street gang appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court in Terre Haute in connection with a handgun incident at the new skate park in Brazil.

Nathaniel Meskimen, 19, of Brazil, faces federal charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a stolen firearm. U.S. Magistrate Craig McKee found probable cause for Meskimen’s Oct. 10 arrest and ordered him detained pending trial.

Following the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Blackington said that the violent nature of the crime resulted in the federal charges being filed as part of U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett’s efforts to combat violent crimes, because the case involves a stolen handgun and possible gang activity.

Meskimen told police upon his arrest that he had been a member of MS-13 street gang in Indianapolis for six  months. FBI intelligence information indicates that the Mara Salvatrucha gang, better known as MS-13, is a transnational gang composed mostly of people of Central American descent. The gang operates in at least 42 states and has up to 10,000 members nationwide. The gang members are pruported to perpetuate violence and engage in criminal activity including drug distribution, murder, rape, prostitution, robbery and other offenses.

“MS-13 is one of the most violent gangs in the country,” Blackington said. “This is a rarity down here in the Wabash Valley to see someone like this [from this gang].”

Blackington said investigators are not aware of any other active members of MS-13 operating now in the Wabash Valley, but the gang may be active in Indianapolis.

According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court, Detective Jerry Siddons of the Clay County Sheriff’s Department responded to a disturbance near the skate park in Brazil where Meskimen was being held on the ground. A .40-caliber handgun was lying on the ground beside Meskimen, along with ammunition that had been removed from the firearm.

Witnesses told police that Meskimen and another person were at the skate park when they were confronted by three people about a residential burglary that had occurred. Meskimen allegedly pulled out the handgun and pointed it at one of the people. However, one of the other three people punched Meskimen in the mouth. The report states that Meskimen then turned the gun on the person who had punched him before running away.

The three individuals pursued Meskimen, police report, and two other people in the area joined the pursuit with one throwing the defendant to the ground and the other person disarming him to await police arrival at the scene in the 700 block of Church Street.

Siddons reported that Meskimen told him that he had intended to shoot both men at whom he pointed the handgun, but he did not, though he had shot someone else on an earlier occasion in an unrelated incident.

Meskimen also is alleged to have told the detective that he had assaulted another man with a knife because the man had failed to pay for marijuana that had been delivered to him. He also told police that he had stolen the firearm from his cousin, who resides in Terre Haute, the court record states.

In July, Meskimen was convicted of criminal recklessness in Clay County and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, with all but 132 days suspended.

A detention hearing for Meskimen was waived, and he was placed into federal custody to await his next court date. His next court date has not been set, and the possible penalty if convicted has not yet been calculated.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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