Baltimore Firearms Trafficker Sentenced to 42 Months in Federal Prison for Illegally Dealing in Firearms
Baltimore, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced MS-13 gang member Edin Velasco Garcia, age 21, of Frederick, Maryland, to 41 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for assault with a deadly weapon, in connection with his assault of two victims whom he believed were rival gang members. The sentence was imposed on February 2, 2022.
The was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Baltimore Field Office; and Chief Jason Lando of the Frederick City Police Department.
MS-13 is a national and international gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador and other central American countries. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Frederick County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County, Maryland. Velasco Garcia was a member of the Fulton Locos Salvatruchas (“FLS”).
At all times of this conspiracy, members of MS-13 were expected to protect the name, reputation, and status of the gang from rival gang members and other persons. To protect the gang and to enhance its reputation, MS-13 members were expected to use any means necessary to force respect from those who showed disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence. MS-13 had mottos consistent with its rules, beliefs, expectations and reputation including “mata, viola, controla,” which translates as, “kill, rape, control,” and “ver, oir y callar,” which means, “see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing.” One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, often referred to as “chavalas,” whenever possible.
MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence both to maintain membership and discipline within the gang, as well as against rival gang members. Participation in criminal activity by a member, particularly in violent acts directed at rival gangs or as directed by gang leadership, increase the respect accorded to that member, resulting in that member maintaining or increasing his position in the gang, and opens the door to promotion to a leadership position.
As detailed in his plea agreement, from at least January 2019, Velasco Garcia agreed with members of MS-13 to conduct and participate in the gang’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity that included narcotics trafficking, extortion, and acts of violence.
According to his plea agreement, on March 22, 2019, Velasco Garcia and several other MS-13 members and associates approached Victim 1 and Victim 2 in a parking lot in Frederick, Maryland. They asked Victim 1 and Victim 2 if they were in a gang and they responded that they were not. Victim 2 had “18” tattooed on his arms, which is related to the 18th Street gang, one of MS-13 primary rival gangs. After calling other gang members on the phone to joint them, Velasco Garcia pulled out a black folding knife and attempted to stab Victim 2 with an overhead motion, but missed. Victim 2 ran but was caught by the group and punched several times. Victim 2 broke away and attempted to run away, but MS-13 members tackled him, punching and kicking Victim 2 several times before one person hit Victim 2 in the head with a rock. During the attack Velasco Garcia threw up several MS-13 gang signs. When the attack began, Victim 1 ran in a different direction and was also attacked. Gang members punched Victim 1 in the face and he was slashed with the knife in the face. Victim 1 was unconscious for a period of time and gang members stole his cell phone. Both Victim 1 and Victim 2 were transported to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.
Velasco Garcia admitted that the assaults on Victim 1 and Victim 2 were intended to maintain and increase the status of MS-13 and allow members to maintain or increase their status within the gang.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This case is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI and the Frederick Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth S. Clark and Zachary Stendig, who prosecuted this case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psnexile and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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