Two dozen members of the MS-13 gang have been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to participate in racketeering related to murders, kidnapping, extortion and money laundering that the gang carried out from 2015 until 2017, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
The defendants are accused of murdering five people in Anne Arundel, Frederick and Montgomery counties. Three of the victims were dismembered.
An indictment in U.S. District Court in Baltimore that was unsealed Friday detailed how gang members allegedly murdered more than a dozen people from 2015 to 2017 and extorted people for money to finance the gang’s activities.
“MS-13 is one of the most violent and ruthless gangs on the streets today,” Robert K. Hur, U.S. Attorney for Maryland, said in a statement.
He said federal and local law enforcement are “determined to dismantle this organization to make our communities in Maryland safer.”
MS-13, also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, is a gang composed primarily of immigrants and descendants of immigrants from El Salvador. The gang operates across the country, including in Maryland, according to federal prosecutors.
Most of the killings happened in Frederick and Montgomery counties, Prince George’s County has been a center of major drama involving MS-13 but one involved an Annapolis woman.
Below is the press release from the U.S Attorney’s office in Baltimore. It reads:
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned a third superseding indictment charging twenty-four alleged members and associates of the gang MS-13. The indictment was returned on June 27, 2018 and unsealed yesterday.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) Baltimore Office; Chief Edward G. Hargis of the Frederick City Police Department; Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith, III; Chief Timothy J. Altomare of the Anne Arundel County Police Department; Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams; Chief Henry P. Stawinski, III of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.
United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur stated “MS-13 is one of the most violent and ruthless gangs on the streets today. Working with our state and local partners, and using the tools of our Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, we are determined to dismantle this organization to make our communities in Maryland safer.”
“MS-13 is ravaging communities throughout the United States with brutal violence, recruiting children to their murderous ranks, destroying families, and leaving behind countless victims,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan. “This indictment — which charges two dozen alleged MS-13 members with senseless acts of violence — is the latest example of the Department of Justice’s unwavering commitment to combatting violent gangs that prey on communities, whether in Maryland or elsewhere in our country.”
“This indictment is a direct result of the hard work and dedication shared by state, local and federal authorities in their efforts to combat violent gangs in our Maryland communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson, of the FBI’s Baltimore Division. “We are committed to combating this epidemic of violence that often takes young lives and creates fear in our communities. The FBI and our partners will aggressively pursue gangs wherever they surface and are steadfast to making Maryland a safe place for our citizens.”
“We will not allow MS-13 and its members or their affiliates to bring their nefarious and deadly activities into our neighborhoods,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant. “I am proud of the dedicated agents who have duly executed their duties in our collective pursuit of law, order and justice.”
Twenty-one defendants are charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as the La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, including:
- Jorge Raul Guerra Castillo, a/k/a “Pelon,” age 36;
- Carlos Hernandez Diaz, a/k/a “Positivo,” age 25;
- Milton Portillo Rodriguez, a/k/a “Little Gangster,” and “Seco,” age 23;
- Juan Carlos Sandoval Rodriguez, a/k/a “Picaro,” age 19;
- Francisco Ramirez Pena, a/k/a “Tepo,” and “Advertencia,” age 24;
- Jose Alberto Sibrian Garcia, a/k/a “Chango,” age 26;
- Darwin Arias Mejia, a/k/a “City,” and “City Boy,” age 25;
- Miguel Lopez Abrego, a/k/a “Timido,” age 30;
- Albaro Rosa Moreno, a/k/a “Slow,” age 23;
- Ervin Arrue Figureoa, a/k/a “Tricky,” age 19;
- Ronald Mendez Sosa, age 20;
- Edwin Ruiz Urrutia, a/k/a “Sylvestre,” age 19;
- Brenda Argueta Argueta, a/k/a “Prima,” age 19;
- Carlos Ventura Morales, a/k/a “Pantaya,” age 30; and
- Danny Hernandez Solorzano, a/k/a “Titre,” age 20.
The names of six other defendants charged in the racketeering conspiracy remain sealed.
In addition, Darvin Guerra Zacarias, a/k/a “Chapin,” age 26, and Luis Fernando Cruz Rodriguez, a/k/a “Catra,” age 21, are charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, along with Guerra Castillo, Hernandez Diaz, Portillo Rodriguez, Sandoval Rodriguez, Ramirez Pena, Arias Mejia, Rosa Moreno, Arrue Figueroa, Mendez Sosa, Ruiz Urrutia, and Argueta Argueta.
Samuel Diaz-Ramos, a/k/a “Pequeno,” age 32, is charged with money laundering conspiracy.
MS-13 is a national and international gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Frederick County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County, Maryland. All of the defendants except for Rosa Moreno were allegedly members and associates of the Fulton Locotes Salvatrucha clique of MS-13. The indictment alleges that Rosa Moreno was a member and associate of the Parkview Locos Salvatrucha clique of MS-13.
The six-count indictment alleges that from 2015 and continuing through 2017, MS-13 members and associates engaged in racketeering activity that included murders, conspiracies to commit murder, attempted murders, extortion, robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking, and money laundering.
Specifically, the indictment alleges that the defendants murdered five individuals in Frederick, Anne Arundel, and Montgomery Counties, dismembering three of the victims. In addition, the defendants allegedly conspired to murder eight individuals, maiming and assaulting one of the individuals with a machete, shooting one individual in the head, and kidnapping and threatening another individual with a firearm to extract payment for extortion.
The maximum sentence for the racketeering conspiracy is 20 years in prison, or up to life if special circumstances are proven; a maximum of 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering; and a maximum of 20 years in prison for money laundering conspiracy. Initial appearances for the defendants began on June 28, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI; HSI; the Frederick City Police Department; the Anne Arundel, Montgomery, and Prince George’s County Police Departments; and the Anne Arundel, Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince George’s County State’s Attorneys for their work in the investigation, and recognized the Baltimore County Police Department for its assistance. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth S. Clark and Matthew DellaBetta, and Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gang Section who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.