MS-13 Members Sentenced to Life in Prison for Racketeering, Murder, Extortion, and Federal Drug Charges
Defendants Convicted After Three Week Trial
Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has sentenced Luis Flores-Reyes, a/k/a “Maloso,” “Lobo,”’ and “Viejo Lovvon,” age 42, of Arlington, Virginia and Jairo Jacome, a/k/a “Abuelo,” age 40, of Langley Park, Maryland, to life in federal prison, for charges related to a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or “MS-13.” Jacome and Flores-Reyes were convicted by a federal jury on September 29, 2022, of a racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and an extortion conspiracy. The jury also found Flores-Reyes guilty of a drug distribution conspiracy. Flores-Reyes was sentenced yesterday and Jacome was sentenced today.
On January 12, 2023, Judge Xinis also sentenced co-defendant Brayan Contreras-Avalos, a/k/a “Anonimo” and “Humilde,” age 28, of Langley Park, Maryland, to life in federal prison for his participation in the same racketeering conspiracy.
The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Wayne Jacobs of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Washington Field Office Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III of the Drug Enforcement Administration – New York Division; Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Chief Malik Aziz of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County 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. Jacome was the highest-ranking member of the local Langley Park Salvatrucha, or “LPS” clique. Flores-Reyes and Contreras-Avalos were leaders within the Sailors Clique, which held territory in Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and El Salvador.
At all times of this conspiracy, members of MS-13 were expected to protect the name, reputation, and status of the gang and to use any means necessary to force respect from those who showed disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, often referred to as “chavalas,” whenever possible. 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 during the trial, Flores-Reyes, Jacome, and Contreras-Avalos participated in at least six murders, including two minor victims, during the period of the conspiracy. Most of the victims were purported gang rivals except for one minor victim. For example, in June 2016, members of MS-13, including Contreras-Avalos, stabbed to death two unhoused individuals, who gang members believed to be members of the 18th Street gang, in Hyattsville, Maryland. The investigation revealed no evidence that the victims were in fact members of any gang.
Among the most important rules of MS-13 is the prohibition against talking to law enforcement, embodied by the maxim ver, oir, y callar – see, hear, and say nothing. The gang enforced this rule by placing a “green light” – an order to kill – on any member of MS-13 who was thought to be informing on the gang. In December 2016, Jacome directed and participated in the murder of a 14-year-old member of MS-13 who was suspected of talking to the police. The boy’s remains were discovered more than 18 months later in a wooded area outside of Germantown, Maryland.
Additionally, in March 2017, a member of the Sailors Clique, who was hiding from law enforcement in the Lynchburg, Virginia, area, after committing a murder in 2016 in Gaithersburg, Maryland, had a dispute with a local high school student over marijuana. In response, Flores-Reyes aided and abetted a squad of MS-13 members to drive down to Lynchburg and murder this high school student. The gang members kidnapped the student from his front lawn and cut his hand off before killing him. After the murder, Flores-Reyes helped to hide and protect the killers from law enforcement.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the defendants also ran an extortion scheme in and around Langley Park, extorting local businesses by charging them “rent” for the privilege of operating in MS-13 “territory.” Flores-Reyes and Contreras-Avalos also trafficked illegal drugs, including marijuana, and cocaine. A large share of the proceeds of the gang’s illegal activities were sent to gang leadership in El Salvador to further promote the illicit activities of the gang, using structured transactions and intermediaries to avoid law enforcement scrutiny.
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.
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 Erek L. Barron and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. commended the FBI, DEA, HSI, Prince George’s County Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Virginia State Police, Lynchburg Police Department, Prince William County Police Department, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron and Mr. Polite thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy F. Hagan, Chris M. Sarma, William Moomau, Assistant Director Catherine Dick of the Department of Justice Consumer Protection Division and Trial Attorney Alexander Gottfried of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, 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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