FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 31, 2012
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District Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Felony Threats
- Defendant Was Member of International “18th Street” Criminal Street Gang -
WASHINGTON - Victor M. Pineda, also known as Victor Pineda-Gonzalez, 20, of Washington, D.C., has pled guilty to seriously threatening a man inside a carry-out restaurant earlier this year in Northwest Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced today.
Pineda pled guilty on Aug. 30, 2012, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to a felony charge of threatening to injure a person. He is to be sentenced on Nov. 7, 2012, by the Honorable Herbert B. Dixon, Jr. Pineda faces up to 20 years in prison for this offense.
According to the government’s evidence, Pineda is an admitted member of the 18th Street criminal street gang, also known as El Barrio Dieciocho, or simply “18th Street.” The gang was formed decades ago in Los Angeles and its name emanates from a street in Los Angeles where its members frequently gathered. Over several decades, cliques of the gang have spread across the United States and the world, including to Washington, DC. The gang is known for commonly committing violent crimes against and threatening its rivals, such as the international criminal street gang Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13.
On May 15, 2012, at about 3:30 p.m., the government’s evidence showed, Pineda and several other 18th Street members surrounded the victim inside a carry-out in the 3000 block of Mount Pleasant Street NW. Pineda told the victim that he heard that he had been talking negatively about 18th Street. Pineda stood within three feet of the victim, and angrily accused the victim of wearing the colors of and hanging out with MS-13. He told the victim that he was “either with us or against us, and if you’re against us, I’ll call the guys from Los Angeles to come get you.”
By invoking the gang’s leadership, Pineda intended these words as a threat to have the leadership intervene and seriously harm the victim. The victim knew of the notorious reputation of 18th Street’s Los Angeles-based leadership, and feared for his life. Pineda and the other gang members confined the victim in the carry-out for several minutes, against his will, for the purpose of intimidating and threatening him.
In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of the Metropolitan Police Department Gang Intelligence Unit. He also expressed appreciation to Detective Julian Rodriguez, of the Santa Ana, Calif., Police Department, for assistance in providing background about the 18th Street gang. In addition, U.S. Attorney Machen thanked those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Debra McPherson and Wanda Trice. Finally, U.S. Attorney Machen praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Adam Meinero, of the Fourth District Prosecution Unit of the Felony Major Crimes Section, who prosecuted this case.