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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 15, 2020

MS-13 Member Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for Violent Racketeering Crimes, Including Two Murders

Defendant Participated in Two Murders in Which the Victims were Beheaded, Dismembered and Buried in Shallow Graves

Baltimore, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar today sentenced MS-13 gang member Albaro Rosa Moreno, a/k/a Slow, age 24, of Silver Spring, Maryland, to 30 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, in connection with his gang activities, including two murders. 

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge John Eisert of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Office; Acting Chief Patrick Grossman of the Frederick City Police Department; Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith, III; Chief William Lowry of the Anne Arundel County Police Department; Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess; Interim Chief Hector Velez of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha N. Braveboy; Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

“The violence perpetrated by MS-13 members in our communities is totally unacceptable—especially the extreme and barbaric violence such a beheading and dismemberment that is a calling card of the MS-13 gang.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland and our local and state partners are committed to keeping our communities safe from the violent threat of MS-13,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “We continue to work with our counterparts here and abroad to prevent gang violence and bring to justice those who bring danger to our streets.  We need the continued help of members of our communities in order to carry on our work against MS-13.”

“Albaro Rosa Moreno thought he could steal lives and escape unscathed. Today’s sentencing should send a message to MS-13 members and their associates that medieval-style violence and senseless murder will not be tolerated,” said Jennifer C. Boone, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office “The FBI and our partners will aggressively pursue gangs wherever they surface and we are steadfast in our commitment to making Maryland a safe place for the people who call it home.”

MS-13 is a national and international 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 Frederick County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County, Maryland.  Rosa Moreno admitted that from at least January 2017, he was a member and associate of the Parkview Locos Salvatrucha (PVLS) clique of MS-13.

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.”

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 a promotion to a leadership position.  One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, often referred to as “chavalas,” whenever possible. 

According to his plea agreement, in March 2017, Rosa Moreno participated in the murder of Victim 13.  MS-13 gang members had decided that Victim 13 had betrayed the gang because he was in a relation with a female who they believed to be associated with the 18th Street Gang, a rival of MS-13.  Under the ruse that they were going to a party, on March 31, 2017, MS-13 gang members brought Victim 13 to Wheaton Regional Park in Wheaton, Maryland.  Other gang members had dug a grave and gathered weapons at that location.  When Victim 13 arrived, Rosa Moreno and other MS-13 gang members attacked him with a machete and knives until he was dead.  Victim 13’s body was then beheaded, dismembered, and buried in the grave. 

In September 2017, investigators recovered Victim 13’s body from a clandestine grave in Wheaton, Maryland.  The medical examiner found that the cause of death was homicide.  The body had suffered numerous blunt and sharp force traumas, the victim’s head had been severed, and his heart had been removed.    

As detailed in his plea agreement, April 2017, Rosa Moreno assisted with the murder of Victim 14, whom Rosa Moreno and his fellow gang members believed was a member of a rival gang.  Gang members found Victim 14 in Silver Spring, Maryland.  After they confirmed that he was a member of a rival gang – based on a review of his phone and tattoos – they arranged with other gang members to identify a place in Frederick, Maryland where the victim could be killed.  The MS-13 gang members then contacted other gang members (from the Fulton, PVLS, and other cliques) to arrange to transport Victim 14 to Frederick.  Rosa Moreno and other gang members also traveled from Silver Spring to Frederick.  MS-13 gang members brought Victim 14 to the Frederick City Watershed off Gambrill Park Road in Frederick, Maryland, where they had dug a grave and gathered weapons.  When Victim 14 arrived, gang members hit him with a tree branch and other gang members attacked him with a machete and knives until he was dead.  Victim 14’s body was then dismembered and buried in the grave.  Although Rosa Moreno assisted with the murder of Victim 14, he was not permitted to directly participate because he had actively participated in the murder of Victim 13 just a few days before.  In June 2017, the remains of Victim 14 were found in the shallow grave where he had been buried.      

The murders of Victim 13 and Victim 14 were intended to maintain and increase the status of MS-13 and allow Rosa Moreno and other MS-13 members to maintain or increase their status within the gang.    

A total of 30 defendants have been charged in this case with participating in a racketeering conspiracy and/or other crimes related to their association with MS-13.  A total of 19 defendants, including Rosa Moreno, have pleaded guilty to crimes related to their participation in MS-13 gang activities.

Anyone with information about MS-13 is encouraged to provide their tips to law enforcement.  The FBI and Homeland Security Investigations both have nationwide tiplines that you can call to report what you know.  You can reach the FBI at 1-866-STP-MS13 (1-866-787-6713), or you can call HSI at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.                   

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI; HSI; the Frederick City Police Department; the Anne Arundel, Montgomery, and Prince George’s County Police Departments; and the Anne Arundel, Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince George’s County State’s Attorneys for their work in the investigation, and recognized the Baltimore County Police Department for its assistance.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth S. Clark, Catherine K. Dick, and Matthew DellaBetta, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

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Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Contact: 
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4854
Updated October 15, 2020