MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty To Federal Racketeering Conspiracy Including Attempted Murder
Greenbelt, Maryland –Jaime Ernesto Navarette-Mejia, a/k/a Violento, age 35, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, including an attempted murder.
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; Chief Richard McLaughlin of the Laurel Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks; Chief Douglas Holland of the Hyattsville Police Department; Chief Edward G. Hargis of the Frederick Police Department; Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.
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 2012 through at least 2014, Navarette-Mejia was a member of the Normandie clique of MS-13. Navarette-Mejia and 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.
Navarette-Mejia admitted that on March 28, 2014, he and another MS-13 member traveled to a restaurant/bar in Laurel, Maryland. Navarette-Mejia and the other MS-13 member had in their possession a .380 caliber handgun that belonged to the Normandie clique. After Navarette-Mejia became involved in an altercation with patrons of the restaurant, he and the other MS-13 member were asked to leave the restaurant. They went to the car of the other MS-13 member, parked outside. When the patrons who had been involved in the altercation came outside, Navarette-Mejia fired at least five shots at them using the Normandie clique .380 caliber handgun. One of the shots struck a victim in the foot, causing serious injury.
A firearms examiner determined that the .380 caliber handgun that fired the shell casings recovered at the restaurant was the same firearm used at other crime scenes including a murder that occurred on February 28, 2013, an attempted murder that occurred on July 30, 2014, in Hyattsville, Maryland, and a murder that occurred on November 30, 2013 in Frederick, Maryland. These crimes were committed by co-conspirators of Navarette-Mejia.
Navarette-Mejia faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the racketeering conspiracy because it included an attempted murder. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for October 28, 2016, at 9:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the HSI Baltimore, Prince George’s County Police Department, Laurel Police Department, Frederick Police Department, Hyattsville Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office and its Strategic Investigations Unit, Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office and Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office 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, HSI Baltimore’s Operation Community Shield Task Force, and the Maryland Department of Corrections Intelligence Unit for their assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys William D. Moomau and Lindsay Eyler Kaplan, who are prosecuting this case.