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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

MS-13 Leader Pleads Guilty to RICO Conspiracy

Defendant committed attempted murder and helped bury evidence from murder

BOSTON – An MS-13 member pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy.

Jose Vasquez, a/k/a “Little Crazy,” 24, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Aug. 30, 2018.

Vasquez was a member and local leader of the Trece Locos Salvatrucha or TLS clique of MS-13. Vasquez personally participated in racketeering activity on behalf of MS-13. Among other things, on Sept. 8, 2014, Vasquez and another MS-13 member, Angel Pineda a/k/a “Bravo,” were involved in an attempted murder of a suspected gang rival in which the victim was stabbed multiple times.

Separately, Vasquez assisted other MS-13 members in burying evidence relating to a murder in East Boston in January 2016.  On Jan. 10, 2016, Edwin Diaz, a/k/a “Demente,” Rigoberto Mejia, a/k/a “Ninja,” and other MS-13 members murdered a 16-year-old boy who MS-13 members believed to belong to the rival 18th Street gang. The victim was shot and stabbed multiple times. A few days after the murder, Vasquez—who did not personally commit the murder—helped another MS-13 member hide evidence related to the murder.  Specifically, Vasquez helped bury the knife and machete used in the murder, as well as bloody clothes worn by those who committed the crime. This evidence was later recovered by law enforcement.  

After a multi-year investigation, Vasquez was one of dozens of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 named in a superseding indictment unsealed in January 2016 that targeted MS-13’s criminal activities in Massachusetts. Vasquez is the 46th defendant to be convicted as part of that ongoing prosecution.

Pineda previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 93 months in prison. Diaz and Mejia previously pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy involving murder and are awaiting sentencing.

At today’s hearing, the Court accepted Vasquez’s guilty plea but deferred acceptance of the proposed plea agreement until the sentencing hearing. Under the terms of the proposed plea agreement, Vasquez will be sentenced to between 15 and 18 years in prison. 

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Peter Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Commissioner Thomas Turco of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections; Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger; Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Thompkins; Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley; Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Boston Police Commissioner William Evans; Chelsea Police Chief Brian A. Kyes; Everett Police Chief Steven A. Mazzie; Lynn Police Chief Michael Mageary; Revere Police Chief James Guido; and Somerville Police Chief David Fallon made the announcement.

The remaining defendants charged in this case are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated May 16, 2018