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Justice News

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

Monday, May 20, 2013

MS-13 Leader, Jose Bran, A.k.a., "Pantro," Convicted Of Multiple Raceteering Offenses For Role In 2011 Murder And 2012 Stabbing

RICHMOND, Va. – Jose Armando Bran, also known as “Pantro,” 30, of Richmond, Va., was convicted today by a federal jury on murder and maiming in aid of racketeering, among other charges.

         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; and Michael Herring, Richmond Commonwealth Attorney, made the announcement after the verdict was accepted by Senior United States District Judge Robert E. Payne. 

Branfaces a maximum penalty of life in prison when he is sentenced on August 15, 2013.

“Nothing can bring back the life that was brutally taken on July 24, 2011, but with today’s verdict, those MS-13 members who murdered, and later stabbed, in the name of their gang have been brought to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “My office has made the investigation and prosecution of transnational street gang La Mara Salvatrucha Thirteen a top priority.  We have successfully prosecuted MS-13 for the last decade and as this verdict makes clear, we remain fully committed to holding accountable any and all MS-13 members who violate the law.  Whether it is juvenile sex trafficking in Northern Virginia or vicious gang initiation murders in Richmond, we will aggressively continue our efforts to prosecute and eradicate MS-13 from the Eastern District of Virginia.”

        "Today's conviction of Jose Bran is a prime example of the FBI's commitment to disrupt and dismantle violent criminal gangs in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Special Agent in Charge Mazanec.  We thank the City of Richmond Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations, and our other law enforcement partners who have dedicated their efforts to the common cause of eradicating MS-13 from our neighborhoods."

          “MS-13 is a violent transnational gang that poses a significant threat to public safety,” said Special Agent in Charge Torres.  Today’s verdict holds Jose Bran accountable for his role in the crimes of murder and attempted murder in the Richmond area. HSI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners in combating dangerous criminal organizations. ”

Bran was indicted on August 7, 2012, by a federal grand jury.  The Government charged Bran with racketeering and firearms offenses to include: two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, maiming, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death.   According to court records and evidence adduced at trial, Bran was responsible for orchestrating a gangland style execution of victim Osbin Hernandez-Gonzalez.  Bran, who served as the leader of MS-13’s Sailors Locos Salvatrucha clique in Richmond, Virginia, 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.  Specifically, Bran ordered that MS-13 associate Karen San Jose contact Hernandez-Gonzalez and convince him to gather with other MS-13 members.  Bran also enlisted the help of two juveniles 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, also known as “Reptile,” to accompany the juveniles on the “mission” and to ensure the juveniles completed the murder, which Arevalo did. 

San Jose and Arevalo previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the murder.  Arevalo is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, 2013, and San Jose is scheduled to be sentenced on June 20, 2013.  Arevalo faces a maximum of life imprisonment and San Jose faces a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment. 
In or around January of 2012, Bran was told that an individual with the initials F.A. was supplying information about the Richmond Sailors Set to a rival gang.  Bran also came to suspect the loyalty of MS-13 associate Justin Amador.  A plan was developed to have Justin Amador kill F.A. to punish the supposed-informant and thereby also 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 go commit a burglary. They drove to the vicinity of the 3800 block of Terminal Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.  After they arrived, the victim, De Leon and Justin Amador got out of the car.  After a signal from Torres, De Leon grabbed the victim, pulled the victim’s sweatshirt over his head and held 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. The victim lost a portion of one lung as a result of the attack.

De Leon, Molina, Amador and Torres previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the stabbing.  Molina was sentenced to 293 months’ imprisonment.  Torres was sentenced to 235 months’ imprisonment.  De Leon and Amador’s sentencing hearings have not been set.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and the Richmond Police Department Assistant United States Attorney Roderick C. Young and Trial Attorney Andrew L. Creighton of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gang Section are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

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.
Updated March 18, 2015