MS-13 Members Plead Guilty To Racketeering, Murder Conspiracy, Assault And Witness Tampering Charges
In federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Abraham Iraheta, a member of the Flushing, Queens, chapter of the violent international gang La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as “MS-13,” pleaded guilty on Monday to racketeering and murder conspiracy charges. Jose Barrera, a member of the same MS-13 chapter, pleaded guilty earlier today to assault with a dangerous weapon. When sentenced, Iraheta and Barrera each face up to 20 years’ imprisonment. On Tuesday, Jose Celestino Guillen-Rivas, a member of a Fairfax County, Virginia, chapter of MS-13, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to tampering with a witness, and faces a sentence of up to life imprisonment. The defendants entered their pleas before United States District Judge William F. Kuntz at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
The guilty pleas were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York Field Office; and Edmund Hartnett, Commissioner, City of Yonkers Police Department.
“This Office will match MS-13’s dedication to violence with our own unwavering commitment to justice. We have now convicted over 200 MS-13 soldiers and leaders in the Eastern District of New York, and we will work tirelessly until this violent gang is eradicated from the district and elsewhere,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This week’s convictions are another important step toward ending the gang’s influence in our communities and bringing a measure of justice to the victims and their families.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to HSI and the City of Yonkers Police Department for their assistance in the investigation and prosecutions.
According to the indictment and other court filings, Iraheta, known in the gang as “Lobo,” was a member of a chapter of the gang that committed a series of violent crimes, including murder, murder conspiracy and attempted murder, in Flushing, Queens, and elsewhere. Among other crimes, Iraheta was charged with attacking the father of a rival gang member with a machete. As part of his plea, Iraheta admitted to being a member of MS-13, conspiring to kill members of a rival gang, and plotting to kill a disfavored associate of the gang. As part of his plea, Barrera, known in the gang as “Travieso,” admitted to the violent stabbing of a young associate of rival gang.
Guillen-Rivas, known in the gang as “Pirata,” pled guilty to conspiring with members of the Flushing chapter to tamper with a witness for the government in the Virginia homicide trial of an MS-13 member by using violence in order to prevent the witness from testifying again.
The defendants were charged along with seven other MS-13 members in an indictment unsealed on January 5, 2012, and are the last to plead guilty. Their convictions are the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York targeting members of the MS-13, a violent international street gang comprised primarily of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. With numerous chapters, or “cliques,” the MS-13 is the largest street gang in the Eastern District of New York, with a strong presence in immigrant communities in Queens and Long Island. Since 2002, more than 200 MS-13 members, including more than two dozen clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. More than 100 of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges. Since 2010 alone, this Office has convicted more than 30 members of the MS-13 on charges relating to their participation in one or more murders.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Darren A. LaVerne, Tali Farhadian, and Kevin Trowel.
ABRAHAM IRAHETA, also known as “Lobo”
Queens, New York
JOSE BARRERA, also known as “Travieso”
Queens, New York
JOSE CELESTINO GUILLEN-RIVAS, also known as “Pirata”