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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 17, 2022

MS-13 Member Sentenced to Life in Prison for RICO Conspiracy and Brutal Murder of Two Teenagers

Defendant misled immigration court resulting in his release shortly before second murder

BOSTON – A member of the violent MS-13 gang was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston for RICO conspiracy and for his participation in the murders of two teenagers in Massachusetts—one in 2016 in East Boston and the other in 2018 in Lynn—in each instance playing a critical role in repeatedly stabbing a teenager to death.

Henri Salvador Gutierrez, a/k/a “Perverso,” 23, a Salvadoran national, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf to life in prison. In June 2021, Gutierrez pleaded guilty to racketeering, or RICO, conspiracy on behalf of MS-13. As part of his activities in furtherance of MS-13, Gutierrez played a critical role in two horrific murders in which teenagers were repeatedly stabbed to death in public parks in Massachusetts. Each of the victims was murdered with extreme atrocity and cruelty in violation of Massachusetts law.

MS-13, or La Mara Salvatrucha, 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 who the gang views as a threat. The gang is also known for recruiting young members at local high schools, who are then groomed to commit violence in furtherance of the gang’s mission. 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 into “cliques” or branches operating in local territories. Gutierrez was a member of the “Sykos Locos Salvatrucha” (Sykos) and, previously, the “Trece Locos Salvatrucha” (TLS) cliques of MS-13. Achieving promotion in MS-13 generally requires the commission of a significant act of violence, often including murder. The evidence in this case showed that Gutierrez was a “homeboy,” or full member of the MS-13 gang.

On Dec. 24, 2016, in furtherance of MS-13’s racketeering activities, Gutierrez participated in the murder of a teenage boy in East Boston. The evidence showed that Gutierrez lured the victim to a public soccer stadium based on Gutierrez’s belief that the victim may have been associated with a rival gang. Gutierrez personally stabbed the victim numerous times and left the victim’s body at the bottom of a stairwell. An autopsy revealed the victim had at least a dozen sharp force wounds consistent with a stabbing, with significant injuries to the neck, chest and back. His throat appeared to have been slashed, and he had multiple incised wounds to the neck and multiple stab wounds to the chest.

In 2017, while the December 2016 murder remained unsolved, and unrelated to that investigation, immigration authorities arrested Gutierrez as part of ongoing removal proceedings. Gutierrez had entered the United States unlawfully in 2014 and was facing deportation. Authorities sought to remove Gutierrez from the United States and pointed to evidence of his association with MS-13 as part of the reasons to oppose Gutierrez’s petition for asylum and other relief. Gutierrez submitted an affidavit and testified under oath at his removal proceedings. Through his statements, Gutierrez misled the immigration court, telling the court that he was not associated with MS-13, had not committed prior violence, and was committed to living a peaceful life in the United States. Relying in part on Gutierrez’s false testimony, in an order dated June 22, 2018, a United States Immigration Judge ordered Gutierrez released and adjusted his status to that of a person admitted for lawful permanent residence in the United States. 

On July 30, 2018, barely a month after being released from immigration custody, Gutierrez committed his second murder, this time with five members of the Sykos clique of MS-13. The six assailants, four of whom were secretly armed with knives, took a 17-year-old boy to a park in Lynn and pretended to be friendly with the unsuspecting victim. At the scene, the six men surrounded the victim and repeatedly stabbed and hacked him to death. After killing the victim, the gang members left his body in the wooded area of the public park where it was discovered days later, on Aug. 2, 2018. An autopsy revealed that the victim suffered at least 32 distinct sharp force trauma wounds consistent with being stabbed repeatedly, along with multiple blunt force injuries. The victim also had small pieces of metal embedded in his head, consistent with parts of the large knives breaking with the force of the strikes to the victim’s skull. 

The evidence in this case, which included a recording of Gutierrez describing the murder in graphic detail and boasting about it, revealed that the gang members murdered the victim based on their mistaken belief that he may have been assisting law enforcement. In the recordings, Gutierrez seemingly took pleasure in recounting the horrific act and expressed laughter while saying the murder was like “chopping wood,” as he and fellow gang members “were stabbing the knife right through him, bringing it down like [...] Bang, bang, bang, bang!”

Following an investigation in November 2018 Gutierrez was indicted along with the five other MS-13 members who participated in the July 2018 murder in Lynn. The six defendants in this case included five participants in the 2018 murder, as well as one longstanding member of the Sykos clique. In a related case, the government charged a juvenile co-conspirator who was the sixth person involved in the murder.

All six defendants indicted in this case, along with the juvenile charged in the related case, have pleaded guilty. Gutierrez is the third defendant to be sentenced in the case. On Feb. 14, 2022, Erick Lopez Flores, a/k/a “Mayimbu,” was sentenced to 40 years in prison. On Feb. 15, 2022, Jonathan Tercero Yanes, a/k/a “Desalmado,” was sentenced to 33 years in prison. Djavier Duggins, a/k/a “Haze,” is scheduled to be sentenced for RICO conspiracy today, Feb. 17, 2022, at 1 p.m. Sentencing hearings for the two remaining co-defendants, Eliseo Vaquerano Canas, a/k/a “Peligroso” and Marlos Reyes, a/k/a “Silencio,” have not yet been scheduled by the Court.

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. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kunal Pasricha, Kaitlin O’Donnell, and Philip Mallard of the Criminal Division prosecuted the case.

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 https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated February 17, 2022