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Press Release

MS-13 Clique Leader Pleads Guilty to RICO Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON –The leader of a local MS-13 clique pleaded guilty on Friday, March 18, 2022 in federal court in Boston to RICO conspiracy.  

Manuel Adan Yanez Cruz, a/k/a “Rocky,” a/k/a “Flaco,” age 22, a El Salvadoran national, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy. The Court accepted Yanez Cruz’s guilty plea but deferred acceptance of the proposed plea agreement until sentencing, which U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled for July 13, 2022. 

MS-13 is a transnational street gang operating in Massachusetts and numerous other states, as well as countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. MS-13 gang members often commit acts of extreme violence against suspected rivals, those suspected of cooperating with law enforcement and others whom the gang views as a threat. In recent years, dozens of MS-13 members have been convicted of RICO conspiracy and other serious felonies in the District of Massachusetts.

MS-13 is organized in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the form of so-called “cliques” or smaller groups that operate under the larger mantle of MS-13. Yanez Cruz was a member and local leader of the Huntington Locos Salvatrucha (HLS) clique of MS-13, which operated in the cities of Boston, Lynn, Everett, Chelsea, Somerville and other parts of Massachusetts. 

The charge of RICO conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Yanez Cruz will also be subject to deportation upon the completion of his sentence. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

First Assistant United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Matthew B. Millhollin, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett; Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden; Acting Boston Police Commissioner Gregory Long; and Lynn Police Chief Christopher Reddy made the announcement.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

Updated March 22, 2022

Violent Crime