Member Of Maryland MS-13 Extortion Operation In DC Suburbs Is Convicted After Federal Trial
Gang Members Used Guns, Violence, and Threats against Victims’ Families to Extort Local Businesses
Greenbelt, Maryland –A federal jury has convicted Gerdandino Delgado-Escobar, a/k/a “Pumba,” age 24, of Hyattsville, a member of La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, of conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by extortion. The verdict was returned late on June 13, 2019.
The guilty verdict was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Acting Assistant Director in Charge John P. Selleck of the FBI Washington Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Jesse R. Fong of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Washington Field Division; Acting Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Chief Amal Awad of the City of Hyattsville Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.
“We will not tolerate the fear and violence perpetrated by MS-13 in Maryland,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “This prosecution sends a strong message to MS-13 gang members that federal, state, and local law enforcement will continue to work together to find and bring to justice MS-13 members who prey on our neighborhoods.”
MS-13 is a violent gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, with members operating in the State of Maryland, including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County, and Frederick County, and throughout the United States. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13 often work together cooperatively as “Programs,” with the purpose of increasing the gang’s levels of organization, violence, extortion, and other criminal activity, and to assist one another in avoiding detection by law enforcement.
According to trial evidence, in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, MS-13 generated income from various sources, including the extortion of money from businesses. Targeted businesses included drug dealers, brothels, unlicensed “stores” where food, alcoholic beverages, and cigarettes were sold, as well as legitimate businesses, including food and beverage sellers and distributors.
The evidence presented at the four-day trial proved that Delgado-Escobar was a member and associate of the Langley Park Salvatrucha (“LPS”) clique of MS-13. From at least March 2013, Delgado-Escobar, working with other MS-13 members and associates, extracted weekly extortion payments known as “rent” from victim business owners for operating in territory controlled by the LPS and Sailors cliques of MS-13. According to trial testimony, the payments were generally about $40 to $50 per week for beer delivery businesses and around $115 per week for brothel owners.
As proven during the trial, Delgado-Escobar and his co-conspirators extorted numerous business owners operating in the Langley Park area. Delgado-Escobar conspired with other MS-13 members and associates to obtain money from the victims through the use of actual and threatened force, violence, and fear. According to the trial evidence, in one instance a victim who delivered beer was grabbed by the neck, had a gun put to his head and was threatened with the murder of his entire family if the victim did not pay MS-13 for operating a business in its territory. MS-13 members referred to these extortion payments as “rent.”
Delgado-Escobar remains detained pending his sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled.
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur thanked the FBI Washington and Baltimore Field Offices, HSI Baltimore, the DEA Washington Field Office, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, the City of Hyattsville Police Department, and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in this investigation. Mr. Hur commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and Catherine K. Dick, who are prosecuting this case.
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