Two MS-13 Members Sentenced to Life in Prison for Racketeering Conspiracy Including Murder
Two Maryland gang members were sentenced today to life in prison for conspiring to participate in racketeering activities and committing murders on behalf of the racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Field Office; Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Police Department; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Department; and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks made the announcement.
Juan Alberto Ortiz-Orellana, aka Chele and Furia, 28, of District Heights, Maryland, and Minor Perez-Chach, aka Minor Chach-Perez and Little Bad and Bryant Sacarias, 25, of Hyattsville, Maryland, were each sentenced to life in prison by U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus of the District of Maryland. Ortiz-Orellana and Perez-Chach were convicted by a jury on May 20, 2016 for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, murder in aid of racketeering and related charges. Ortiz-Orellana was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering.
MS-13 is a national and transnational gang that operates in the United States and Central America. Members engage in racketeering activity including murder, narcotics distribution, extortion, robberies, obstruction of justice and other crimes.
According to evidence presented at trial, a number of small MS-13 groups, or cliques, operate in the Washington, D.C., area and have frequent contact with MS-13 leadership in El Salvador. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership and discipline within the gang. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible.
Trial evidence demonstrated that, from at least 2009 through October 2014, MS-13 members planned and committed murders, attempted murders, assaults and robberies in Prince George’s, Montgomery and Frederick Counties, as well as extorted brothel operators and owners of other illegal businesses and tampered with and retaliated against witnesses, among other crimes.
Evidence at trial further demonstrated that in January 2013, Ortiz-Orellana and another member of the MS-13 Sailors Locotes Salvatrucha Westside Clique, targeted an individual associated with the rival 18th Street gang, obtained photographs of the victim and conspired to murder him with other members of MS-13. On March 12, 2013, Ortiz-Orellana and the other gang member went to Capitol Heights, Maryland, and shot the victim multiple times outside his home, killing him.
According to the trial evidence, in the early morning hours of Feb. 23, 2013, Perez-Chach met a man whom he believed to be a member of MS-13 who had testified against MS-13 members in federal trials. In fact, the victim was not the witness from the previous MS-13 trials, according to trial evidence. Perez-Chach followed the victim to his home in Hyattsville, where he stabbed the victim to death while another member of MS-13 attacked the victim with a machete, trial evidence demonstrated. Evidence presented at trial showed that during his arrest on May 20, 2013, Perez-Chach was found to be in illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Nine of the 15 defendants charged in this investigation have pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy. Five defendants total have been convicted at trial, and one remains a fugitive of justice.
HSI Baltimore, Prince George’s County Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office and 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 Lindsay Eyler Kaplan of the District of Maryland are prosecuting the case. Former OCGS Trial Attorney Kevin Rosenberg assisted in the prosecution of this case.