News and Press Releases

First MS-13 Member Extradited from El Salvador to United States Sentenced to 35 Years for Role in Attempted Murder of Two Individuals

One of the Seriously Wounded Victims Was Pregnant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Edgar Benitez Hernandez, also known as “Shadow,” 26, of the District of San Miguel, El Salvador, was sentenced today to 35 years in prison on two counts of using and discharging a firearm during or in relation to an attempted murder in aid of racketeering.  Benitez Hernandez was extradited from El Salvador to the United States on Dec. 18, 2013, and had been indicted previously by an Eastern District of Virginia grand jury on June 13, 2010, on multiple racketeering charges, including attempted murder.

Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Michael L. Chapman, Loudoun County Sheriff; and Maggie DeBoard, Town of Herndon Chief of Police, made the announcement after the sentencing before U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton.

Benitez Hernandez pleaded guilty on Feb. 12, 2014.  According to court documents, Benitez Hernandez, a soldier in the notoriously violent transnational street gang Mara Salvatrucha 13 (“MS-13”), attempted to murder two individuals on Sept. 13, 2008, in Loudoun County, Va.  On that date, Benitez Hernandez concealed himself behind some shrubs and when the male and pregnant female victims were within range, he fired multiple shots while yelling “Mara Salvatrucha Cabrones.”  Both of the victims were critically injured and likely would have died were it not for immediate surgical intervention.  The unborn baby also survived the wounding.  Benitez Hernandez committed the double shooting to increase his position within MS-13’s criminal enterprise.

On May 22, 2013, Benitez Hernandez was apprehended in El Salvador by an elite Salvadoran investigative unit known as the Transnational Anti-Gang (TAG) Task Force.  This extradition marks the first time in recent history that a Salvadoran citizen has been extradited to the United States to be held accountable for gang-related crimes committed in the United States.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force, with assistance from the Town of Herndon Police Department.  The U.S. law enforcement partners involved in the investigation and prosecution of Benitez Hernandez would like to thank the Salvadoran National Police for their outstanding assistance in bringing this fugitive to justice.  U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente also thanked the FBI’s Legal Attaché Office in El Salvador, the Government of El Salvador and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, each of which were critical in securing the custody and extradition of Benitez Hernandez.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys  Zach Terwilliger and Patricia Haynes prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.

 

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