FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
JUNE 1, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MS-13 GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 35 YEARS
ON RACKETEERING CHARGES
MS-13 Gang Operated in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties Through
Racketeering Activity That Included Six Murders in Maryland and One in Virginia
Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Edgar Alberto Ayala, age 29, of Suitland, Maryland, today to 35 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise and conspiracy to commit assaults with a deadly weapon, in order to maintain and increase his position in MS-13, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “Today’s lengthy sentence is the result of a coordinated effort by federal, state and local authorities to combat violent gangs in Maryland. The RICO statute allows us to prosecute gang members in federal court for the activities of the criminal organization they chose to join. Most Maryland jurisdictions have adopted anti-gang strategies that combine law enforcement, education and community awareness in a coordinated program to deter gang violence."
Special Agent in Charge Gregory K. Gant of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stated, “ATF has stated, and will continue to state that we will not tolerate gang violence. Together with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we will continue to dismantle the gangs that terrorize our communities. Today’s sentencing shows how serious we are in bringing every violent member of MS-13 to justice, so that our law abiding citizens can feel safe where they live and work.”
Chief Melvin C. High, Prince George’s County Police Department, said, “Sharing the intelligence our gang unit had developed over two years on six homicides was put to best advantage through this regional partnership of local state and federal partners. The commitment and skill of the federal prosecutor’s office to forge ahead on these most challenging cases has resulted in the guilty verdicts that all our communities want and are demanding.” High added, “I want to congratulate U.S. Attorney Rosenstein. This and every victory like it substantiates the need and importance of a unified response to gangs and other criminal activity.”
Colonel David Rohrer, Chief of Police, Fairfax County Police Department, said, “Nothing can compensate a family or a community when a young person such as 14-year-old Anthony Campos is murdered, but I hope this conviction and today’s sentence bring those who loved Anthony some measure of solace. At least one of the gang leaders responsible for Anthony’s senseless killing won’t be walking free among us, able to inflict more pain on innocent children and their families, for many years.” Colonel Rohrer added, "The Fairfax County Police Department remains committed to combating violent criminal gangs and I commend the cooperative efforts of my detectives, other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, and the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland for this investigation and conviction."
"This sentence is another good step in the efforts to eradicate the violence perpetrated by gangs in our region. Through the thorough teamwork of our local, state and federal law enforcement partners we will apprehend, arrest and prosecute these perpetrators wherever they are in the region. Gangs know no borders, law enforcement must work cooperatively across those borders. I commend Deputy State’s Attorney Laura Gwinn, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra Wilkinson and James Trusty on their tremendous work prosecuting this case,” commented Glenn F. Ivey, State’s Attorney for Prince George's County, Maryland.
John McCarthy, State’s Attorney for Montgomery County said “I welcome the opportunity to work with our federal partners in addressing the growing presence of gangs in Maryland. It is only through coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that we can ensure public safety and effectively address the dangers posed by gangs.”
A federal jury convicted Ayala and co-defendant Oscar Ramos Velasquez, in November, 2006, after a six week trial. According to testimony at the trial, the defendants conspired to operate an MS-13 enterprise in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties through a pattern of racketeering activity which included six murders in Maryland and one in Virginia; the use of deadly weapons including firearms, baseball bats, machetes, bottles or knives in the commission of numerous murders, attempted murders and assaults; assaults on an MS-13 gang member from El Salvador, juvenile females and rival gang members; kidnaping; robbery; obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
Ayala falsely testified before a state grand jury in Prince George’s County that was investigating the May 2004 murder of Ashley Antonio Urias. On January 21, 2005 Ayala picked up other MS-13 gang members and drove with them to an apartment building in Fairfax, Virginia to look for rival gang members. Two MS-13 gang members, Jose Hipolito Cruz Diaz, a/k/a “Pirana,” age 28, of Lanham, Maryland and Omar Vasquez, a/k/a “Duke,” age 28, shot at the crowd of youths sitting outside the apartment building, injuring two juveniles and murdering a third juvenile. Cruz Diaz and Vasquez were convicted on April 27, 2007 of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise and conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering.
Velasquez, age 21, of Baltimore is scheduled to be sentenced on July 23, 2007 and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise. Velasquez was also convicted of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon in aid of racketeering and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.
To date, this office has charged 41 gang members with various federal offenses, with 27 defendants charged in this RICO conspiracy case. Fourteen MS-13 gang members have been convicted in this RICO conspiracy case. Cruz Diaz, Omar Vasquez and Henry Zelaya, age 20, who was also convicted on April 27, 2007 face life in prison at their sentencings on August 10, 2007, August 6, 2007 and July 30, 2007, respectively. Seven defendants, all of Maryland, have pleaded guilty, including Barahona, age 23, of Hyattsville, who was sentenced on April 16, 2007 to 14 years in prison; Ronaldo Diaz Vasquez, age 26, of Wheaton, who was sentenced on April 2, 2007 to nine years in prison; Franklin Mejia Molina, age 23, of Silver Spring, who was sentenced on December 4, 2006 to over 9 years (114 months)in prison; and Juan Lopez, age 21, of Riverdale, who was sentenced on October 16, 2006 to 87 months in prison, all for racketeering conspiracy. Jose Pena Aguilar, age 25, of Beltsville, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on November 6, 2006 for using a firearm in furtherance of a racketeering conspiracy, to be served consecutive to a 20 year sentence received in the Circuit Court, Prince George’s County for attempted murder.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Prince George’s County Police Department; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Montgomery County Department of Police; the Howard County Police Department; the Maryland National Capital Park Police; the Maryland State Police and the Fairfax County, Virginia Police Department for their investigative work.
Mr. Rosenstein thanked Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, and Fairfax County, Virginia, Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan, Jr., for the assistance that they and their offices provided.
Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra Wilkinson, James Trusty and Chan Park, Prince George’s County Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Gwinn, and Trial Attorney David Jaffe, a prosecutor for the Justice Department’s Gang Squad, who are prosecuting these cases.