Ex-Federal Correction Officer Pleads Guilty to Taking Bribes in Exchange for Smuggling Contraband into the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn
Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, a four-count indictment was unsealed charging 13 of the highest-ranking MS-13 leaders in the world with directing the transnational criminal organization’s criminal activities in the United States, El Salvador, Mexico, and elsewhere, over the past two decades. Specifically, the defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to provide or conceal material support to terrorists, and narco-terrorism conspiracy. Four of the defendants are also charged with alien smuggling conspiracy which resulted in death.
On February 22, 2023, Vladimir Antonio Arevalo-Chavez, also known as “Vampiro de Monserrat Criminales” (Arevalo-Chavez), Walter Yovani Hernandez-Rivera, also known as “Baxter de Park View” and “Bastard de Park View” (Hernandez-Rivera), and Marlon Antonio Menjivar-Portillo, also known as “Rojo de Park View” (Menjivar-Portillo), were located by Mexican authorities and expelled from Mexico via the United States. When Arevalo-Chavez, Hernandez-Rivera, and Menjivar-Portillo arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, they were placed under arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Earlier this afternoon, the defendants had initial appearances in the Southern District of Texas, pending removal to the Eastern District of New York.
Four co-defendants, Jose Wilfredo Ayala-Alcantara, also known as “Indio de Hollywood,” Jorge Alexander De La Cruz, also known as “Cruger de Peatonales,” Juan Antonio Martinez-Abrego, also known as “Mary Jane de Hollywood,” and Francisco Javier Roman-Bardales, also known as “Veterano de Tribus,” remain at large. Members of the public with information concerning their whereabouts are strongly encouraged to contact the FBI’s toll-free MS-13 tip line, 1-866-STP-MS13 (1-866-787-6713), or HSI’s tip line at (866) 347-2423 or https://www.ice.gov/webform/ice-tip-form. Together, FBI and HSI have offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the four fugitives.
Six other co-defendants, Edwin Ernesto Cedillos-Rodriguez, also known as “Renuente de Abriles Dangers,” Carlos Tiberio Ramirez-Valladares, also known as “Snayder de Pasadena,” Dany Fredy Ramos-Mejia, also known as “Cisco de Teclas,” Dany Balmore Romero-Garcia, also known as “Big Boy de Normandies,” “Dig Boy de Normandies,” and “D Boy de Normandies,” Ruben Antonio Rosa-Lovo, also known as “Chivo de Centrales,” and Miguel Angel Serrano-Medina, also known as “Cabro de Park View,” are believed to be in custody in El Salvador. The United States will explore options for their extradition with the government of El Salvador.
Merrick B. Garland, United States Attorney General; Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY); Christopher A. Wray, Director, FBI; Homeland Security Investigations; and John J. Durham, Director of Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), announced the indictment and arrests.
“Today’s action makes clear that there is no hiding place, anywhere in the world, for the leaders of violent gangs that terrorize American communities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Justice Department will continue to use the full force of our law enforcement authorities to disrupt and dismantle MS-13 and other transnational criminal organizations and hold their leaders accountable.”
“The relentless efforts of our Office and law enforcement partners are systematically dismantling the MS-13 from the bottom to the very top, and we will not stop until this transnational criminal organization and its leaders are held accountable for the extreme violence they have inflicted on our district, the United States, and the countries where this scourge is based,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Geographic borders will not shield violent actors from American justice.”
“Today’s indictment demonstrates the Department of Justice’s ongoing commitment to hold MS-13’s highest ranking leaders responsible for the terrorism and violence that they have unleased on communities from Long Island to El Salvador and elsewhere,” said JTFV Director Durham. “Only by combating MS-13’s command and control structure, and bringing the transnational criminal organization’s highest-ranking leaders to justice in the United States will we be able to break the persistent cycles of violence that have plagued our communities.”
“The FBI will continue to vigorously investigate and hold transnational organized groups like MS-13 and their leaders accountable for the continued violent and terrorist criminal activities they orchestrate,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Today’s indictment demonstrates the FBI’s reach and commitment to seeking justice against those individuals who jeopardize American lives and liberty. We will never stop working in coordination with our international partners to protect our respective citizens from MS-13 and other gangs wherever they are.”
As set forth in court filings, the 13 defendants are part of MS-13’s command and control structure, consisting of the Ranfla Nacional, Ranfla en Las Calles, and Ranfla en Los Penales, and play significant leadership roles in the organization’s operations in El Salvador, Mexico, the United States and throughout the world. In the related case of United States v. Henriquez, et al., a grand jury in the Eastern District of New York previously indicted 14 members of the Ranfla Nacional, who functioned as MS-13’s “Board of Directors.” Formal extradition packages were submitted by the United States for 12 of those defendants, who either are or were in El Salvador custody, and remain pending. The two other defendants, Fredy Ivan Jandres-Parad, also known as “Lucky de Park View” and “Lacky de Park View,” and Cesar Humberto Lopez-Larios, also known as “El Grenas de Stoners” and “Oso de Stoners,” still are fugitives.
As further alleged, the defendants have engaged in a litany of violent terrorist activities aimed at influencing the government of El Salvador (GOES). The defendants have used terrorist violence to obtain benefits and concessions from the GOES and to target GOES law enforcement and military officials. They have also used improvised explosive devices and grenades and operated military-style training camps for firearms and explosives. The defendants have actively engaged in public displays of violence to threaten and intimidate civilian populations, to obtain and control territory and to manipulate the electoral process in El Salvador. Several of these defendants have played prominent roles in MS-13’s past and current negotiations with the GOES.
Further, these defendants authorized and directed violence in the United States, Mexico, and elsewhere as part of a concerted effort to expand MS-13’s influence and territorial control. As the leaders of the MS-13 transnational criminal organization, these defendants were an integral part of the leadership chain responsible for supervising MS-13 cliques in the United States that engaged in extreme violence, including numerous murders, attempted murders, assaults, and related offenses. For example, this Office’s Long Island Criminal Division has prosecuted hundreds of MS-13 leaders, members, and associates for carrying out more than 65 murders in the Eastern District of New York between 2009 and the present.
Several of these defendants, including Arevalo-Chavez, Hernandez-Rivera, and Menjivar-Portillo, coordinated MS-13’s expansion into Mexico (the Mexico Program), at the direction of the Ranfla Nacional, which was a coordinated effort to maintain MS-13’s continuity of operations in response to law enforcement pressure previously exerted by the United States and GOES. Additionally, the Mexico Program included forging alliances with Mexican cartels and engaged in narcotics trafficking, immigrant smuggling and extortion, kidnappings, and weapons trafficking. As alleged in the indictment, the MS-13’s Mexico Program murdered some migrants bound for the United States, including suspected members of the rival 18th Street gang and MS-13 members attempting to flee MS-13 in El Salvador without permission. Finally, drug trafficking was an important part of MS-13’s money-making operation, especially in Mexico, and the defendants used MS-13’s large membership in the United States to generate financial support for MS-13’s terrorist activities in El Salvador.
Since its creation in August 2019, JTFV has successfully implemented a whole-of-government approach to combatting MS-13, including increasing coordination and collaboration with foreign law enforcement partners, including El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. JTFV has also identified and targeted for prosecution the MS-13 programs, cliques and individuals that have had the most violent impact in the United States and it has coordinated significant MS-13 indictments in U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, including the first use of national security charges against MS-13 leaders.
JTFV has been comprised of members from U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, including the EDNY; the District of New Jersey; the Northern District of Ohio; the District of Utah; the District of Massachusetts; the Eastern District of Texas; the Southern District of New York; the Eastern District of Virginia; the Southern District of Florida; the Southern District of California; the District of Nevada; the District of Alaska; and the District of Columbia, as well as the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and the Criminal Division. In addition, all Department of Justice law enforcement agencies are involved in the effort, including the FBI; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. In addition, HSI also plays a critical role in JTFV.
U.S. Attorney Peace expressed his sincere thanks to the FBI’s Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Newark and Houston Field Offices, with critical support provided by the Criminal Investigative Division’s Safe Streets Gang Unit, and HSI’s National Gangs and Violent Crime Unit, who spearheaded this investigation. Additionally, FBI Legal Attaché in Mexico City, HSI Mexico, and the United States Customs and Border Protection Officers and Area Port Director Shawn Polley at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston provided critical support in connection with the arrests as well as the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas for handling the initial appearance.
Further, U.S. Attorney Peace recognized the numerous Department of Justice components that contributed to this indictment, including: the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section; the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Executive Office; the Office of International Affairs; and the Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training and Organized Crime and Gangs Section. In addition, the Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and the United States Agency for International Development, Office of Inspector General have provided critical support for JTFV’s mission.
The charges announced today are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison, and the four defendants charged with alien smuggling conspiracy, which resulted in death, also are eligible for the death penalty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Donnelly, Matthew Shepherd and Stewart Young from JTFV, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul G. Scotti, Justina L. Geraci and Megan E. Farrell from the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.
Defendants in U.S. Custody:
VLADIMIR ANTONIO AREVALO-CHAVEZ (also known as “Vampiro de Monserrat Criminales”)
WALTER YOVANI HERNANDEZ-RIVERA (also known as “Baxter de Park View” and “Bastard de Park View”)
MARLON ANTONIO MENJIVAR-PORTILLO (also known as “Rojo de Park View”)
JOSE WILFREDO AYALA-ALCANTARA (also known as “Indio de Hollywood”)
JORGE ALEXANDER DE LA CRUZ (also known as “Cruger de Peatonales”)
JUAN ANTONIO MARTINEZ-ABREGO (also known as “Mary Jane de Hollywood”)
FRANCISCO JAVIER ROMAN-BARDALES (also known as “Veterano de Tribus”)
Defendants Believed to be in El Salvador Custody:
EDWIN ERNESTO CEDILLOS-RODRIGUEZ (also known as “Renuente de Abriles Dangers”)
CARLOS TIBERIO RAMIREZ-VALLADARES (also known as “Snayder de Pasadena”)
DANY FREDY RAMOS-MEJIA (also known as “Cisco de Teclas”)
DANY BALMORE ROMERO-GARCIA (also known as “Big Boy de Normandies,” “Dig Boy de Normandies,” and “D Boy de Normandies”)
RUBEN ANTONIO ROSA-LOVO (also known as “Chivo de Centrales”)
MIGUEL ANGEL SERRANO-MEDINA (also known as “Cabro de Park View”)
E.D.N.Y. Docket No.: 22-CR-429 (JMA)
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney’s Office