Jose Armando Bran, aka “Pantro,” was sentenced today to serve two consecutive life sentences for his role in a murder and maiming that he ordered while he was an MS-13 gang leader in Richmond, Va.
The sentencing was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia; Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Mazanec of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office; Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington; Richmond Commonwealth Attorney Michael Herring; Chesterfield Commonwealth Attorney Billy Davenport; Chief Ray J. Tarasovic of the Richmond Police Department; and Col. Thierry G. Dupuis of the Chesterfield County Police Department.
Bran, 30, of Richmond, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne in the Eastern District of Virginia.
On May 20, 2013, Bran was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, maiming and use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death.
According to evidence presented at trial, Bran was responsible for orchestrating the gangland-style execution of Osbin Hernandez-Gonzalez. Bran, who served as the leader of MS-13’s Sailors Locos Salvatrucha clique in Richmond, suspected that Hernandez-Gonzalez had violated MS-13 rules by aiding a rival gang. Based upon this suspicion, Bran created a ruse to lure Hernandez-Gonzalez to the “Pony Pasture” area on the banks of the James River. Bran ordered MS-13 associate Karen San Jose to contact Hernandez-Gonzalez and convince him to gather with other MS-13 members. Bran also enlisted the help of two juveniles, Luis Cabello and Jeremy Soto, who were tasked with actually carrying out the murder of Hernandez-Gonzalez. Finally, to ensure the murder was carried out, Bran instructed MS-13 member Michael Arevalo, aka “Reptile,” to accompany the juveniles on the “mission” and to ensure the juveniles completed the murder, which Arevalo did.
Evidence at trial also showed that in approximately January 2012, Bran was told that an individual with the initials F.A. was supplying information about the Richmond Sailors Clique to a rival gang. A plan was developed to have MS-13 associate Justin Amador kill F.A. to both punish the supposed informant and test Amador’s loyalty.
On Jan. 14, 2012, Bran directed that the plan be carried out. Sometime that evening, Giovanny Torres, along with Amador, Mario Molina and Marvin De Leon, drove the victim to a nightclub in Richmond. They left after 45 minutes, telling the victim that they were all going to commit a burglary. They drove to the vicinity of the 3800 block of Terminal Avenue in Richmond, and De Leon and Amador got out of the car. After a signal from Torres, De Leon grabbed the victim, pulled his sweatshirt over his head and held him while Amador stabbed the victim at least 14 times. The victim escaped and fled to a nearby residence while the others drove away. As a result of the attack, the victim lost a portion of one lung.
The other members and associates of the MS-13 Sailors Locos Salvatrucha clique in Richmond that have been convicted include the following individuals:
• On Jan. 23, 2013, Arevalo pleaded guilty in federal court. He was sentenced on July 25, 2013, to serve life in prison plus 10 years.
• On March 15, 2013, San Jose pleaded guilty in federal court. On July 23, 2013, she was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison.
• Cabello was charged as an adult by the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, and on Jan. 25, 2012, he was found guilty by a jury. On June 24, 2013, Cabello was sentenced to serve 34 years in prison.
• Soto was charged as an adult by the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and pleaded guilty on July 31, 2012. On July 19, 2013, Soto was sentenced to serve 18 years in prison.
• On Aug. 15, 2012, Molina pleaded guilty in federal court. On Dec. 12, 2013, he was sentenced to serve 293 months in prison.
• On June 29, 2012, Torres pleaded guilty in federal court. On March 14, 2013, he was sentenced to serve 235 months in prison.
• On May 10, 2012, De Leon pleaded guilty in federal court. On July 23, 2013, he was sentenced to serve 235 months in prison.
• On June 18, 2012, Amador pleaded guilty in federal court. On July 25, 2013, he was sentenced to serve 235 months in prison.
• Jose Mancia-Martinez, aka “Ready,” was charged as an adult in Chesterfield County Circuit Court. On Jan. 9, 2013, he was found guilty by a jury of forcible rape. On July 17, 2013, he was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison.
This case was investigated by the FBI, HSI, the Richmond Police Department and the Chesterfield County Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Roderick C. Young of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Andrew L. Creighton of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.