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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 19, 2020

MS-13 Members Sentenced to Prison for Violent 2018 Attack

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Two MS-13 members were sentenced today to over a combined 28 years in prison for their roles in a December 2018 shooting and stabbing that occurred in Four Mile Run Park.

“Yes, Northern Virginia has a gang problem,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “I have personally handled the prosecution of MS-13 members in Alexandria for over a decade. By burying their heads in the sand and lacking courage to address a problem because they mistakenly deem it to be politically incorrect, various community leaders in Northern Virginia simply refuse to acknowledge the gang problem to the detriment of the same Hispanic community they claim to be defending. No one suffers more at the hands of MS-13 than other individuals of Central American birth or ancestry. MS-13 gang members extort minority owned businesses in their own communities, sexually traffic first generation American juveniles, and brutally assault and even murder Hispanic boys and girls who they believe have disrespected the gang. This case is proof positive of the need for community leaders in Northern Virginia to acknowledge this reality and work to be part of the solution. We cannot prosecute MS-13 out of existence. The community must play a significant role to protect our youth from joining the gang in the first place. I believe that together we can eliminate the gang problem in Northern Virginia.”

According to court documents, Juan Francisco Rivera-Pineda, 25, and Jefferson Noe Amaya, 25, both of Alexandria, are members of the Pinos Locos Salvatrucha (PLS) clique of MS-13, which operates in Chirilagua, an area in Alexandria near the border of Arlington.

On Dec. 30, 2018, Rivera-Pineda and Amaya shot and stabbed a 40-year-old victim while the victim and his two friends were in Four Mile Run Park. The victim’s nephew had been warned by PLS not to sell drugs in PLS territory without paying rent. On the night of the shooting, Rivera-Pineda, Amaya, and a third unidentified suspect confronted the victim in the park, shooting him in the throat and arm, and stabbing him in the torso. The victim was transported to the hospital where he underwent surgery and survived.

“Today's sentencings send a clear message that the FBI and the Safe Streets Task Force remain aggressive in investigating and dismantling gang activity that brings violence and fear into our communities,” said James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office. “The FBI will continue steadfastly in its goal to take these violent offenders off the street and ultimately bring justice to the victims of these brutal acts.”

Rivera-Pineda and Amaya each pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering activity, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. Rivera-Pineda was sentenced to 161 months in prison, and Amaya was sentenced to 177 months. Each sentence included a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years.  

The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), Operation Blue Heat. The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

This matter was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Safe Streets/HIDTA Task Force – Northern Virginia, which is composed of FBI Agents, along with Detectives from the Fairfax County Police, Alexandria City Police, Prince William County Police, Arlington County Police, Alexandria Police Department, Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, Vienna Police Department, Herndon Police Department, along with Agents from the Department of Homeland Security Enforcement Removal Operations, the USMS, and the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force.  The task force is charged with investigating, disrupting and dismantling the most egregious and violent gangs operating in Northern Virginia to include MS-13.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; M. Jay Farr, Arlington County Chief of Police; and James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Assistant U.S. Attorney Morris Parker and Natasha Smalky prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:19-cr-225.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Public Affairs joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated June 19, 2020