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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 30, 2021

Jury Convicts MS-13 Member of Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

FRESNO, Calif. — A jury found Lorenzo Amador, 23, of Mendota, guilty of one count of assault with a deadly weapon in aid of racketeering and one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Amador was a member of La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a violent criminal street gang that engages in racketeering activity, including murder, kidnapping, extortion, and drug trafficking. On Aug. 12, 2018, Amador and fellow MS-13 members kicked, hit, and stabbed a member of a rival gang in the back with a knife, slicing his diaphragm and sending him to the emergency room where he had to have life-saving surgery.  

After the attack, Amador logged on to his Facebook account and used coded language to send word of the attack to his fellow MS-13 members. His message was intercepted by a wiretap on the Facebook account of one of his fellow MS-13 members. In the days following the stabbing, Amador’s fellow MS-13 members called each other in frantic efforts to warn Amador that police might be closing in on him and to try to help him flee Mendota, which he did. Police eventually caught him two months later.

Amador also joined a drug conspiracy, which he participated in by driving to Los Angeles to help the gang pick up drugs, returning to Mendota with the drugs, and selling them for the gang.

The investigation was conducted by the California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit, the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Special Services Unit (SSU). Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ross Pearson, Michael Tierney, and Kimberly Sanchez prosecuted the case.  

Several of Amador’s co-defendants have been sentenced, and others have pleaded guilty and are scheduled for sentencing later this year.  

Amador is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on Dec. 17, 2021. Amador faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated September 30, 2021