Mara Salvatrucha Leader "Pantro," Along With Other MS-13 Members, Sentenced For Racketeering Offenses Including Murder
RICHMOND, Va. – Jose Armando Bran, aka “Pantro,” 30, of Richmond, Va., was sentenced today to 2 consecutive life sentences for his role in a gang related murder and maiming that he ordered while he was leader of a local clique of the transnational MS-13 gang. On May 20, 2013, Bran was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, maiming, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office; John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington; Michael Herring, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney; Ray J. Tarasovic, Chief of Police for Richmond Police Department; Billy Davenport, Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney; and Col. Thierry G. Dupuis, Chief of Police for Chesterfield County Police Department, made the announcement after the sentencing by Senior United States District Judge Robert E. Payne.
“Mara Salvatrucha has been a parasite upon the communities of the Eastern District of Virginia,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “The prosecution and incapacitation of MS-13 and its criminal membership is of the utmost importance to my office and our law enforcement colleagues. We remain steadfast in both our pursuit and commitment to eradicate La Mara and will continue to use all available tools in our federal arsenal to achieve that goal. Today’s life sentence and permanent incapacitation of a vicious and morally bankrupt MS-13 leader marks yet another powerful step toward dismantling MS-13 in the Eastern District of Virginia.”
“The sentencing of Jose Bran should be an example of the commitment the FBI has against violent gangs in the Commonwealth,” said FBI SAC Jeffrey C. Mazanec. “The FBI will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners to combat violent gangs.”
According to evidence presented at trial, Bran was responsible for orchestrating a gangland-style execution of Osbin Hernandez-Gonzalez. Bran, who served as the leader of MS-13’s Sailors Locos Salvatrucha clique in Richmond, suspected that Hernandez-Gonzalez had violated MS-13 rules by aiding a rival gang. Based upon this suspicion, Bran created a ruse to lure Hernandez-Gonzalez to the “Pony Pasture” area on the banks of the James River. Bran ordered MS-13 associate Karen San Jose to contact Hernandez-Gonzalez and convince him to gather with other MS-13 members. Bran also enlisted the help of two juveniles, Luis Cabello and Jeremy Soto, who were tasked with actually carrying out the murder of Hernandez-Gonzalez. Finally, to ensure the murder was carried out, Bran instructed MS-13 member Michael Arevalo, aka “Reptile,” to accompany the juveniles on the “mission,” and to ensure the juveniles completed the murder, which Arevalo did.
Evidence at trial also established a separate conspiracy to commit murder that involved Bran. The evidence revealed that in approximately January 2012, Bran was told that an individual with the initials F.A. was supplying information about the Richmond Sailors clique to a rival gang. A plan was developed to have MS-13 associate Justin Amador kill F.A. to both punish the supposed informant and test Amador’s loyalty.
On January 14, 2012, Bran directed that the plan be carried out. Sometime that evening, Giovanny Torres, along with Justin Amador, Mario Molina, and Marvin De Leon, drove the victim to a nightclub in Richmond. They left after forty-five minutes, telling the victim that they were all going to commit a burglary, then drove to the vicinity of the 3800 block of Terminal Avenue in Richmond. After they arrived, the victim, De Leon and Justin Amador got out of the car. At a signal from Torres, De Leon grabbed the victim, and pulled his sweatshirt over his head, holding him while Justin Amador stabbed the victim at least 14 times. The victim escaped and fled to a nearby residence while the others drove away. As a result of the attack, the victim lost a portion of one lung.
The other members and associates of the MS-13’s Sailors Locos Salvatrucha clique in Richmond, Virginia that have been convicted include the following individuals:
• On January 23, 2013, Michael Arevalo, a.k.a. “Reptile,” pleaded guilty in United States District Court to conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in murder. On July 25, 2013, he was sentenced to serve life in prison plus 10 years.
• On March 15, 2013, Karen San Jose pleaded guilty in United States District Court to aiding and abetting the use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in murder. On July 23, 2013, she was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison.
• Luis Cabello, a.k.a. “Destroyer,” was charged as an adult by the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and on January 25, 2012, he was found guilty by a jury of first degree murder, use of a firearm in commission of a felony and gang participation. On June 24, 2013, Cabello was sentenced to serve 34 years in prison.
• Jeremy Soto, a.k.a. “Sneaky,” was charged as an adult by the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and on July 31, 2013, pleaded guilty to second degree murder, use of a firearm in commission of a felony and gang participation. On July 19, 2013, Soto was sentenced to serve 18 years in prison.
• On August 15, 2012, Mario Molina, a.k.a. “Correcto,” pleaded guilty in United States District Court to maiming in aid of racketeering. On December 12, 2013, he was sentenced to serve 293 months in prison.
• On June 29, 2012, Giovanny Torres, a.k.a. “Gio,” pleaded guilty in United States District Court to maiming in aid of racketeering. On March 14, 2013, he was sentenced to serve 235 months in prison.
• On May 10, 2012, Marvin De Leon, a.k.a. “Bomba,” pleaded guilty in United States District Court to maiming in aid of racketeering. On July 23, 2013, he was sentenced to serve 235 months in prison.
• On June 18, 2012, Justin Amador, a.k.a. “Danger,” pleaded guilty in United States District Court to maiming in aid of racketeering. On July 25, 2013, he was sentenced to serve 235 months in prison.
• After Bran and others were arrested, Jose Mancia-Martinez, a.k.a “Ready” became the new leader of the MS-13’s Sailors Locos Salvatrucha clique in Richmond. On August 18, 2012, Mancia-Martinez and a friend offered a young girl and ride and subsequently raped her while threatening her with a machete. He was charged as an adult in Chesterfield County Circuit Court. On January 9, 2013, he was found guilty by a jury of forcible rape, and on July 17, 2013, he was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison.
This case was investigated by the FBI, HSI, the Richmond Police Department and the Chesterfield County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Roderick C. Young and Trial Attorney Andrew L. Creighton of Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Holloman prosecuted the case on behalf of the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney B.J. McGee prosecuted the case on behalf of Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.