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Justice News

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

Monday, February 10, 2020

MS-13 Member Sentenced to 32 Years in Federal Prison for Participating in a Violent Racketeering Conspiracy, Including Two Murders

Also Participated in Two Attempted Murders and a Kidnapping

Baltimore, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar today sentenced MS-13 gang member Carlos Alas Brizuela, a/k/a “Truco” and “Stewie,” age 29, to 32 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, on a federal racketeering charge related to his participation in a violent racketeering conspiracy, specifically MS-13, including two murders, two attempted murders, and a kidnapping.

Anyone with information about MS-13 is encouraged to call the FBI’s nationwide tipline, 1-866-STP-MS13 (1-866-787-6713).  The FBI tipline allows individuals to provide information about MS-13’s criminal activities to a central location and the FBI will then disseminate the information to the appropriate law enforcement authorities for investigation.  Your identity will be protected.

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; Chief Edward G. Hargis of the Frederick Police Department; Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith, III; Chief Timothy J. Altomare of the Anne Arundel County Police Department; Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess; Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy; Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

“Brizuela and his fellow MS-13 members committed a horrifying series of violent acts, ravaging communities throughout Maryland,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “Brizuela will now serve 32 years in federal prison, where there is no parole - ever.  Federal, state, and local law enforcement will use all the tools at our disposal to arrest and prosecute gang members who prey on our neighbors.  We will not rest until we dismantle this organization to make Maryland safer.”

“The defendant and his conspirators committed numerous criminal violations to include extortion, kidnapping and murder.  This prosecution exemplifies the ruthless violence committed by MS-13 gang members, which threatens the stability and safety of our communities,” said FBI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Boone. “While today’s sentence will not bring back those who had their lives taken from them, we hope it provides justice to the victims and their families and shows the FBI’s commitment to continue to work with our law enforcement partners and  be uncompromising in our pursuit to bring these violent criminals to justice.”

“The violence and fear MS-13 inflicts upon the community is unacceptable,” said John Eisert, special agent in charge for HSI Baltimore. “HSI will continue to work towards safer streets through collaboration with our law enforcement partners to combat and dismantle criminal gangs like MS-13.”

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.  Brizuela was a member and associate of the Fulton Locotes Salvatrucha 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 Brizuela’s plea agreement, beginning in 2015 Brizuela conspired with other MS-13 members and associates to engage in racketeering activity including murders, conspiracies to commit murder, attempted murders, extortion, robbery, and drug trafficking, in order to further the interests of the gang.

Specifically, on April 7, 2015, MS-13 members and associates murdered Victim 1, whom they believed to be a rival gang member, with Brizuela’s knowledge and permission.  MS-13 members identified Victim 1 at a restaurant in Frederick, Maryland, then called Brizuela to inform him that they had a potential victim.  Brizuela contacted other gang leaders to get approval to kill Victim 1 and arranged for another gang member to participate in the murder of Victim 1.  MS-13 members lured Victim 1 to a wooded area in Frederick, where they disabled Victim 1 by hitting him in the head with a rock, then struck him repeatedly with a machete and a knife until he was dead.  During the course of the attack, they contacted Brizuela on the phone to confirm that they should complete the murder of Victim 1 and Brizuela confirmed that they should kill Victim 1.  The next day, MS-13 members buried Victim 1 in the woods near the site of the murder, where his body was ultimately recovered.  

Brizuela admitted that on May 10, 2015, he and other MS-13 members kidnapped Victim 2, who had stopped making his required extortion payments to the gang.  Brizuela and the other MS-13 members forced Victim 2 into a car at gunpoint and took him to a wooded area.  Although the plan was to kill Victim 2, Brizuela and other gang members got approval from gang leadership to let Victim 2 live, after he agreed to pay the gang immediately.

In August 2015, MS-13 members and associates sought—and received—the approval of Brizuela and other gang leadership to murder Victim 3, whom they believed to be a rival gang member.  On August 28, 2015, after previously conducting surveillance of the residence where Victim 3 lived with his girlfriend, Victim 4, the MS-13 members and associates entered the apartment and waited there for the victims to return.  After the victims returned to the apartment, three gang members attacked Victim 3 with machetes and knives while restraining and assaulting Victim 4.  Although both victims survived, the attack on Victim 3 left him with both hands nearly severed, and severe wounds to his face and torso.  He still has no use of one hand and limited use of the other.  Following the attempted murder, gang members contacted Brizuela and others to report that Victim 3 had been killed.  

Finally, Brizuela admitted that on August 31, 2015, he and other MS-13 members and associates murdered Victim 5, whom they believed to be a rival gang member.  On that day, Brizuela and other MS-13 gang members were drinking in Wheaton and went to Dunkin Donuts where they saw Victim 5, who was wearing Nike Cortez sneakers.  According to MS-13 rules, Nike Cortez sneakers were only to be worn by gang members.  Brizuela said that he had previously warned Victim 5 about wearing those sneakers.  Victim 5 spit on one of the MS-13 gang members as they walked by, who then punched him in the mouth.  Victim 5 threw a beer on Brizuela and ran.  Brizuela and another gang member chased Victim 5 and stabbed him to death.  Following the homicide, Brizuela and others reported to gang leadership that they had killed a rival gang member.   

A total of 29 defendants have been charged in this case with participating in a racketeering conspiracy and/or other crimes related to their association with MS-13, including 18 defendants charged in the fifth superseding indictment filed on October 21, 2019.  A total of 13 defendants, including Brizuela, have pleaded guilty to crimes related to their participation in MS-13 gang activities.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI; HSI; the Frederick 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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Violent Crime
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4854
Updated February 10, 2020