MS-13 Member Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison on Racketeering Charges
Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Santos Maximo Garcia, a/k/a “Curley,” age 32, today to 32 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
Garcia was convicted, along with co-defendant Israel Cruz, at trial in March 2008 of conspiracy to conduct and participate in racketeering enterprise activities of MS-13. According to trial testimony, Garcia conspired from at least 2001 to March 2007 to operate an MS-13 enterprise in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties through a pattern of racketeering activity which included eight 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; obstruction of justice; and witness tampering.
Trial testimony showed that Cruz was the leader of the Sailors Locos Salvatruchos Westside (SLSW) clique in Prince George’s County. Garcia collected and distributed dues from MS-13 members as a de facto treasurer for the SLSW clique.
On June 3, 2002 in Silver Spring, Maryland, Garcia and a fellow MS-13 member assaulted Garcia’s ex-girlfriend and her friend. Garcia hit their vehicle repeatedly with a baseball bat, and when the couple tried to drive off, the other gang member used a .380 semi-automatic handgun to fire at the vehicle several times. Neither victim was hit by the gunfire. Investigating police officers recovered two baseball bats in Garcia’s car, as well as three .380 shell casings and the firearm in the immediate vicinity.
On July 22, 2004, Cruz and Garcia falsely testified before a state grand jury in Prince George’s County, Maryland that was investigating MS-13 and the May 2004 gang murder of Ashley Antonio Urias. During their sworn testimonies, Cruz and Garcia falsely and repeatedly indicated that they were not current MS-13 members and that they did not know many MS-13 members.
From June 2002 to August 2005, Cruz and Garcia attended numerous meetings of MS-13, including a meeting in which gang members watched a videotape of gang investigators from the Prince George’s County Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Gang members identified investigating officers and agents, discussed ways to thwart law enforcement efforts and commented on the possibility of retaliation against police during several meetings. At another meeting where dues were collected, Garcia discussed not sending money to a gang member imprisoned for murder, because of suspicions that the imprisoned gang member had “spilled the beans” to the police.
Israel Ramos Cruz, a/k/a “Taylor,” a/k/a “Sastre,” age 31, of Wheaton, Maryland was convicted at trial of the racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, murder in aid of racketeering, witness tampering murder, using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, murder resulting from use of a gun, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, being an alien in possession of a gun and ammunition and use of a gun during a crime of violence. Judge Chasanow sentenced Cruz to life in prison.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein expressed his appreciation for the investigative work performed by 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. The U.S. Attorney also recognized Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, for the assistance that they and their offices provided.
Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chan Park and James M. Trusty, who prosecuted the case.