Maryland MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty to Federal Racketeering Conspiracy, Attempted Murder in Aid of Racketeering, and Discharging a Firearm During a Crime of Violence
Greenbelt, Maryland –Francisco Zamora-Flores, age 25, of Silver Spring, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks; and Chief Douglas Holland of the Hyattsville Police Department.
MS-13 is a national and transnational gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Frederick County, Maryland. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership and discipline within the gang. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible.
According to his plea agreement and court documents, from about 2014, Zamora-Flores was a member of the Normandie Clique of MS-13. MS-13 members committed crimes to further the interests of the gang, including murder, assault, robbery, extortion by threat of violence, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and witness retaliation.
Zamora-Flores admitted that on July 30, 2014, he and four other members of MS-13 and the Normandie Clique were advised that three rival gang members had harassed and tried to steal the bike of a person who was a friend of MS-13. One of the co-conspirators drove Zamora-Flores and the other MS-13 members to the area of 30th Avenue in Hyattsville, where they saw three individuals walking north on the street. Zamora-Flores admitted that he and another MS-13 member shot two of the individuals. One victim was shot seven times, with wounds to his upper torso, right arm, and face. The other victim had a gunshot wound to his right side.
Eleven .380 caliber shell casings fired from two different handguns were collected at the scene of the shooting. A firearms examiner determined that five of the shell casings were fired from the same gun used at other crime scenes including: murders that occurred on November 11, 2012 and February 28, 2013, in the Hyattsville area; an attempted murder that occurred on that on March 28, 2014, in Laurel, Maryland; and a murder that occurred on November 30, 2013 in Frederick, Maryland. The other six shell casings were fired from another .380 caliber firearm that was recovered in Montgomery County, Maryland, on October 5, 2014.
Zamora-Flores faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the racketeering conspiracy; a maximum of 10 years in prison for attempted murder in aid of racketeering; and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, and up to life in prison for discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for December 9, 2016, at 9:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI Baltimore, the Prince George’s County Police Department, Hyattsville Police Department, and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office and its Strategic Investigations Unit, for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein also recognized the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office, Prince George’s County Department of Corrections, and HSI Baltimore’s Operation Community Shield Task Force for their assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys William D. Moomau and Lindsay Eyler Kaplan, who are prosecuting this case.