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MS-13 Members and Associates Sentenced for Racketeering & Narcotics Conspiracies & 4 Murders

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The last defendant of the six La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang members who were convicted at two separate federal trials was sentenced today. Image for illustration purposes
The last defendant of the six La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang members who were convicted at two separate federal trials was sentenced today. Image for illustration purposes
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US Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

The last defendant of the six La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang members who were convicted at two separate federal trials was sentenced today. The six defendants were sentenced for racketeering conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, and offenses related to the murders of four men in 2019.

According to court documents and evidence presented in the two trials, the six defendants were members of MS-13’s Sitios Locos Salvatrucha clique (STLS), which operated in Northern Virginia and elsewhere for years. From at least 2017 through 2020, MS-13 members and associates regularly travelled to and from Long Island, New York, for the purpose of obtaining cocaine from Marvin Menjivar Gutierrez, STLS’s leader in the United States. From there, MS-13 members would transport the cocaine to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to be sold in nightclubs and bars. STLS used the proceeds of their cocaine sales to purchase more cocaine to sell, buy weapons, and support other MS-13 members in the United States and El Salvador.   

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“These defendants—members of the violent MS-13 gang—sold drugs to fuel the gang’s business, surveilled and tracked rival gang members, and even murdered innocent victims, all to increase the grip that MS-13 had on the community,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “With today’s sentencing, we are holding these defendants accountable for the havoc they wreaked. The Criminal Division, along with our federal and local law enforcement partners, is committed to combating violent criminal organizations that victimize our communities.”

In the spring of 2019, Menjivar and Melvin Canales Saldana, STLS’s second-in-command in the United States, ordered members to begin committing murders so that the junior members could rise in rank within MS-13 and amplify STLS’s prestige and control. In June 2019, three MS-13 members, including Cristian Arevalo Arias and Carlos Turcios Villatoro, lured Victim 1 and Victim 2 to a wooded area and murdered them by shooting and stabbing the victims. The MS-13 members believed Victim 1 belonged to a rival gang, and then murdered Victim 2 to avoid leaving any witnesses to Victim 1’s murder.

“MS-13 represents a cycle of death in our society that cannot be tolerated and must be eradicated. MS-13 sells the poisons that destroy communities, families, and lives, and uses the profits to purchase the weapons they use to kill our people in the streets,” said U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This is why federal, state, and local law enforcement employ a coordinated, comprehensive, and strategic approach to systematically dismantle these organizations and end their ability to do harm.”

In August 2019, Canales ordered an MS-13 member to provide Arevalo with a firearm so that Arevalo, Manilester Andrade Rivas, and other MS-13 members could find and and kill any rival gang member. Arevalo, Andrade, and others travelled to the Glen Arbor Apartments in Woodbridge, Virginia, in the hopes of encountering and murdering a rival. They encountered Victim 3 and Arevalo shot him to death.

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In September 2019, Jairo Aguilera Sagastizado travelled to Woodbridge from New York and spent hours driving around Northern Virginia and Maryland with two other MS-13 members, looking for a rival gang member to murder at random so that they could rise in rank. Unable to find a rival, the group finally decided to murder Victim 4, whom they observed walking home from a 7-Eleven in Dumfries, Virginia. Aguilera and another MS-13 member shot Victim 4 multiple times, killing him. 

“Today’s sentencing is another example of the FBI’s relentless commitment to bringing an end to violent transnational criminal enterprises like MS-13,” said Executive Assistant Director Timothy Langan of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. “If you engage in racketeering in the advancement of distributing narcotics, rest assured that we will not stop until you face the consequences of your actions.”

“Members of MS-13 spread fear and violence throughout the country—often through senseless murders—but their control is not limitless,” said Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office. “As evidenced by this case, the FBI will pursue individuals or groups who traffic in violence. We vow to continue to work with our federal, state, and local partners to disrupt and dismantle transnational gangs that terrorize our neighborhoods.”

Multiple MS-13 members and associates pleaded guilty prior to trial. Below is additional information about the defendants, all of whom are Salvadoran nationals, who were convicted at trial and have been sentenced. 

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