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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

MS-13 Leader Sentenced for RICO Conspiracy

BOSTON – The leader of MS-13’s Eastside Loco Salvatrucha (ESLS) clique was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for RICO conspiracy.   

Herzzon Sandoval, a/k/a “Casper,” 36, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 20 years in prison and two years of supervised release. In February 2018, Sandoval and two other MS-13 members, Edwin Guzman, a/k/a “Playa,” 32, and Erick Argueta Larios, a/k/a “Lobo,” 33, both Salvadoran nationals residing in the U.S. illegally, were convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy. A fourth MS-13 member, Cesar Martinez, a/k/a “Cheche,” 37, also a Salvadoran national illegally residing in the U.S., was convicted at the same trial of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.

According to court documents, MS-13 was identified as a violent transnational criminal organization whose branches, or “cliques,” operate throughout the United States, including in Massachusetts. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence, specifically against rival gang members, to gain membership in and be promoted within the gang. Sandoval and Guzman were the leaders, also known as the “first word,” and “second word,” of the ESLS clique in Massachusetts.

On Sept. 20, 2015, Joel Martinez, a/k/a “Animal,” murdered a 15-year-old boy in East Boston. On Jan. 8, 2016, as a reward for the 2015 murder, Joel Martinez was promoted by the gang to “homeboy” status with a 13-second beat-in by other MS-13 members at an ESLS meeting that Sandoval, Guzman, Martinez and Argueta Larios attended. 

In May 2018, Joel Martinez  was sentenced to 40 years in prison and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to RICO conspiracy involving murder. Cesar Martinez, Guzman, and Argueta Larios are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 6, Nov. 15, and Nov. 19, 2018, respectively.

Sandoval was one of 49 defendants convicted as part of this case. All nine defendants who went to trial were convicted and 40 others pleaded guilty. In all, 16 defendants, including Joel Martinez, were found to have committed or knowingly participated in murders.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Peter C. 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 John P. Pappas; Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Boston Police Commissioner William Gross; 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 today. The U.S. Marshals Service has provided crucial assistance with the case.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated October 9, 2018