MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Participate in a Violent Racketeering Enterprise
A Maryland gang member pleaded guilty yesterday to his participation in a racketeering enterprise in furtherance of the activities of the gang known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, including his participation in a drug robbery intended to support the gang.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur of the District of Maryland; Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Field Office; Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI Washington Field Office; Acting Special Agent in Charge Scott W. Hoernke of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Washington Field Office; Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks; Chief Douglas Holland of the Hyattsville Police Department; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy made the announcement.
Jeffry Rodriguez aka “Hyper,” 22, a citizen of El Salvador who was residing in Capitol Heights, Maryland, pleaded guilty before the Honorable Judge Paula Xinis in the District of Maryland to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise.
“The Department of Justice is focused on dismantling transnational criminal organizations like MS-13, which is one of the most dangerous gangs in America,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan. “I want to thank our dedicated federal prosecutors and federal law enforcement officers with Homeland Security Investigations, the DEA, and the FBI, as well as our state and local partners in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County for all of their hard work on this case. Yesterday’s guilty plea is our next step toward taking the despicable MS-13 off our streets for good.”
“MS-13 is one of the most violent and ruthless gangs on the streets today,” said U.S. Attorney Hur. “Using the tools of our Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, we are determined to dismantle this organization to make our communities in Maryland safer.”
According to the plea agreement, MS-13 is a national and international gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, Maryland. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence within the gang and against rival gangs. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible.
Pursuant to his plea agreement, Rodriguez admitted that from at least August 2016, he was a member and associate of the Sailors clique of MS-13. Rodriguez admitted that on Aug. 9, 2016, he and other MS-13 members conspired to rob two individuals of a pound of marijuana, the sale of which would be used to benefit the Sailors clique.
Specifically, on Aug. 9, 2016, Rodriguez and an MS-13 co-conspirator entered a vehicle occupied by the two victims under the guise that they were going to purchase a pound of marijuana from the victims. Rodriguez and his co-conspirator were armed with a firearm and a knife. Upon attempting to rob the victims, and displaying the firearm, Rodriguez and his co-conspirator became engaged in a violent struggle with the victims. During the struggle, the victims sustained serious bodily injuries including gunshot and stab wounds. In addition, both Rodriguez and his co-conspirator sustained gunshot wounds. After being shot, Rodriguez and his co-conspirator ran from the victims’ vehicle, got into another vehicle in which another MS-13 member was waiting and drove to a local hospital, where Rodriguez was admitted for treatment.
Eleven of Rodriguez’s co-defendants remain charged in the sixth superseding indictment with various racketeering violations, drug trafficking conspiracy, and extortion conspiracy. The trial of the 11 remaining defendants is scheduled to commence on March 12, 2019.
Rodriguez is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 29.
An indictment is merely an allegation. Those defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
HSI Baltimore, FBI Washington Field Office, DEA Washington Field Office, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Hyattsville Police Department and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office investigated the case. Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and Daniel C. Gardner are prosecuting the case.