FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
JULY 23, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MS-13 GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 37 YEARS IN PRISON
MS-13 Racketeering Activity Included Six Murders in Maryland and One in Virginia
Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Oscar Ramos Velasquez, age 22, of Baltimore, today to 37 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, assault with a deadly weapon in aid of racketeering and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “The RICO statute allows us to prosecute gang members in federal court for the activities of the criminal organization they chose to join. This sentence should serve as a warning to young people who are tempted to join gangs like MS-13, that you may pay for that decision for the rest of your life. Federal, state and local authorities will continue to work together to combat violent gangs in Maryland."
Special Agent in Charge Gregory K. Gant of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stated, ATF and our task force partners will continue to investigate violent gangs that bring fear and devastation into our communities. This sentence should send a message to any violent gang member that your acts of violence may have earned you a membership in MS-13, but they will also earn you accommodations inside a prison cell.”
A federal jury convicted Velasquez and co-defendant Edgart Alberto Ayala, age 29 of Suitland, Maryland, 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.
Trial testimony showed that Velasquez and other MS-13 gang members possessed a deadly weapon while he sexually assaulted two juvenile females at a “skipping party” on May 12, 2003; and assaulted rival gang members outside a nightclub in Langley Park, Maryland on September 17, 2004.
Ayala was sentenced to 35 years in prison on June 1, 2007.
To date, this office has charged 42 gang members with various federal offenses, with 30 defendants charged in this RICO conspiracy case. Fourteen MS-13 gang members have been convicted thus far in this RICO conspiracy case. Jose Hipolito Cruz Diaz, a/k/a “Pirana,” age 28, of Lanham, Maryland; Omar Vasquez, a/k/a “Duke,” age 28; and Henry Zelaya, age 20 were convicted at trial on April 27, 2007 and face life in prison at their sentencings on August 10, 2007, August 6, 2007 and July 30, 2007, respectively. Nine defendants, all of Maryland, have pleaded guilty.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the RAGE Task Force, 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 have 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.