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Press Release

MS-13 Member Sentenced to Life in Prison for Kidnapping and Murder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — Israel Alberto Rivas Gomez, 28, a citizen of El Salvador residing in Mendota, was sentenced today to life in prison for kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

“Excellent law enforcement work led to the arrest of 25 individuals associated with the MS-13 gang for criminal activity in California’s Central Valley,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert. “Rivas Gomez participated in the brutal murder of a 19-year old man. The murder was preplanned, carefully orchestrated, driven by allegiance to MS-13, and deserving of a life sentence. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to dismantling criminal enterprises like MS-13 and to vindicating the rights of victims and seeking justice for their family members and loved ones.”

“The gruesome homicides that were committed to intimidate the community  and further the efforts of MS-13 to exploit the community in Mendota exemplify why the FBI is deeply committed to working with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to disrupt the grip gangs attempt to have on our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “Law enforcement and the community must stand together against violent gangs to offer residents and their children a brighter future and today’s sentence demonstrates the success we can have when we work together to investigate and disrupt organizations determined to exploit our communities.”

“While nothing can erase the pain that family members experience when their loved one is kidnapped and murdered in cold blood, this investigation, prosecution, and sentencing goes a long way in obtaining justice,” said Homeland Security Investigations San Francisco (NorCal) Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. “HSI San Francisco is proud of our agents and professional staff who worked together on this multi-year criminal investigation into this MS-13 clique in Mendota, which yielded dozens of arrests and prevented additional acts of violence.”

According to court documents, Rivas Gomez 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 Dec. 18, 2017, Rivas Gomez and his fellow MS-13 members kidnapped the 19-year-old victim in Mendota, drove him to a remote location approximately 30 minutes away, and used a knife and machete to murder him, all in furtherance of MS-13’s criminal gang enterprise. A jury convicted Rivas Gomez in September 2022 of kidnaping and murder in aid of racketeering.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit, the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), 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 and Kimberly Sanchez prosecuted the case.

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

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

Updated April 5, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime