News and Press Releases

Leader of MS-13 Gang Convicted of Sex Trafficking Multiple Children

February 23, 2012

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Rances Ulices Amaya, 23, aka “Murder” and “Blue,” was convicted today by a federal jury of conspiring to commit sex trafficking of a child and three counts of sex trafficking three girls.

            Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the verdict was accepted by United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. 

            Amaya faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison for each count. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 1, 2012.

            “Rances Amaya was an MS-13 leader who exploited vulnerable teen girls for sex and profit,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “MS-13 sees juvenile prostitution as an easy way to earn a lot of money, and their victims are paying the price with their young bodies. We hope today’s conviction and the other cases we’ve brought through the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force will put gang sex trafficking rings out of business.”

            “Exploiting juvenile girls for the purpose of underage prostitution is among the lowest forms of human conduct,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Preying on our children will not be tolerated and these cases represent a concerted effort by the FBI, our partners in this case Fairfax County Police Department, and all of our partner law enforcement agencies in the region to stop juvenile prostitution and human trafficking in Northern Virginia.”

            Amaya was indicted on Nov. 28, 2011, for the four counts of which he was convicted.  According to court records and evidence at trial, Amaya joined MS-13 when he was a teenager and later became a “shot caller” for his MS-13 clique, the Guanacos Lokotes Salvatruchas.  MS-13 gave him the gang monikers “Murder” and “Blue,” and he bears multiple MS-13 tattoos on his hands and arms.

            In 2009, Amaya joined forces with an MS-13 associate who was already prostituting underage girls.  Amaya used the violent reputation of MS-13 to ensure that sex customers paid for the sex and did not lure the underage victims away.  He also used his MS-13 contacts to find sex customers and would offer free sex with the victims and a cut of the profits for any gang member who provided customers or underage girls.  Amaya and his co-conspirator sought out illegal aliens as customers because they believed illegal aliens were unlikely to call the police.  Amaya would hand out his telephone number at construction sites and convenience stores frequented by day laborers from Latin America. 

            At Amaya’s trial, the jury heard that some of the victims were required to have sex with 8-10 paying customers per day, sometimes seven days per week.  Some of the customers were sex addicts and repeat customers who paid daily for the sex.  At night, after the paying customers were finished, Amaya would invite his fellow MS-13 members to have sex with the girls.  Sometimes, to punish victims, the gang would “run a train” on a victim, which meant that multiple gang members would have sex with the victim in rapid succession.  The jury heard that the defendant and other gang members raped the victims both for their enjoyment and to “groom” them for the sex trafficking scheme.

            Besides raping them, to keep the victims compliant, Amaya would provide them with cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs.  The evidence showed that Amaya prostituted five victims who were between the ages of 14 and 17 years old.  The jury heard that using underage girls had two advantages:  customers preferred young girls and Amaya found them easier to manipulate and control.  In addition, there was always an implicit threat of violence insofar as the victims knew that Amaya was MS-13 and he frequently carried a machete with him, MS-13’s weapon of choice.  Amaya also struck at least one of the victims in the face.

            The sex acts took place at motels, hotels, houses, apartments, and cars in Washington, D.C., and the Northern Virginia area.  In particular, Amaya frequented a few hotels in Falls Church, Va., and many of the customers were solicited from convenience stores in the Culmore and Chiriluaga neighborhoods of Northern Virginia.

            Amaya charged between $30 and $120 for about 20 minutes of sex with the victims.  Customers were required to pay more for “unusual” sex acts.  The proceeds of the prostitution were used to purchase narcotics, alcoholic beverages, and to support MS-13 in the United States and El Salvador.

            Amaya is the fourth MS-13 member to be convicted of sex trafficking children in the Eastern District of Virginia.

            This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Fairfax County Gang Unit, with assistance from the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force.  Assistant United States Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger and Special Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Frank are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Founded in 2004, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force is a collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies – along with nongovernmental organizations – dedicated to combating human trafficking and related crimes.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on


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