Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2008
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(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

MS-13 Gang Member Sentenced to 27 Years in Prison on Racketeering Charges

WASHINGTON - A member of La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for his participation in a racketeering enterprise, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Edward M. Yarbrough for the Middle District of Tennessee announced today.

Walter Hernandez, a.k.a. Spanky, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Todd J. Campbell of the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville. Judge Campbell also ordered Hernandez to serve five years of supervised release upon his release from prison.

At his plea hearing on January 29, 2008, Hernandez admitted that he and others involved in the MS-13 gang conspired to participate in a pattern of racketeering activity in the Nashville metropolitan area, which included murder and attempted murder. In addition, Hernandez admitted that on January 20, 2006, he and another gang member were involved a dispute with two men from a rival gang, which resulted in Hernandez shooting one of the men. The victim later died from his injuries.

Hernandez is the fourth defendant to be sentenced on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges stemming from an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Nashville on Jan. 10, 2007. That indictment charged 14 members of MS-13 with conspiring to participate in the affairs of a racketeering enterprise and related charges including murder, attempted murder, assault, weapons charges, and obstruction of justice. Defendant Jose Alfaro, a.k.a Liche, was sentenced on Dec. 10, 2007, to 20 years in prison and three years supervised release upon his release from prison. Defendant Henry Garaballo Vasquez, a.k.a Cuero was sentenced on December 4, 2007 to 20 years in prison and three years of supervised release. Defendant Geovanni Pena, a.k.a Rata was sentenced on Nov. 20, 2007, to 135 months in prison and three years supervised release upon his release from prison. Trial for the remaining defendants is currently scheduled for Aug. 5, 2008.

The MS-13 street gang is a violent international criminal organization. The purpose of the racketeering enterprise was to preserve and protect the power, territory and profits of the MS-13 enterprise through violent assault, murder, threats of violence and intimidation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur of the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorneys David Jaffe and John Han of the Criminal Divisionís Gang Squad. The case was investigated by the Nashville Metropolitan Police Departmentís Gang Suppression Unit; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Davidson County District Attorney Generalís Office; the U.S. Attorneyís Office in the Middle District of Tennessee and the Criminal Divisionís Gang Squad.

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