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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 9, 2019

Senior Maryland MS-13 Gang Leader Sentenced To 260 Months In Federal Prison For A Violent Racketeering Conspiracy, Including Attempted Murder

Defendant Brought Guns from Florida and Distributed Them to MS-13 Members in Maryland; Participated in a Shooting; and Sold Cocaine for the Benefit of the Gang

Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis today sentenced Jose Augustin Salmeron-Larios (a/k/a Joseph Morales-Martinez, Angel Salvador Gutierrez, Yankee, and Kean), age 26, of Severn, Maryland, to 260 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for a conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13; attempted murder in aid of racketeering; and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. 

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jesse Fong of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; Special Agent in Charge John Eisert of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Acting Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha N. Braveboy; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

 “As the founder and leader of the MS-13 gang’s “Maryland Program,” Salmeron-Larios organized and coordinated violence, drug trafficking, and extortion among six MS-13 cliques operating in the Maryland area,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “His arrest and conviction helped to dismantle the gang’s effort to make MS-13 operations in Maryland more organized, efficient, and deadly.  Now Salmeron-Larios will spend more than 21 years in federal prison, where there is no parole—ever.”

MS-13 is a gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, with members operating in the State of Maryland, including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Frederick County, and throughout the United States.  Branches or “cliques” of MS-13 often work together cooperatively to engage in criminal activity and to assist one another in avoiding detection by law enforcement.  In Maryland and the surrounding area, these cliques include Parkview Locos Salvatrucha (“PVLS”), Normandie Locos Salvatrucha (“NLS” or “Normandie”), Sailors Locos Salvatrucha Westside (“SLSW” or “Sailors”), Langley Park Salvatrucha (“LPS”), Weedoms Locos Salvatrucha (“Weedoms”), and Cabanas Locos Salvatruchas (“Cabanas”).  MS-13 cliques often combine and work together as “Programs,” with the purpose of increasing the gang’s levels of organization, violence, extortion, and other criminal activity.  A person within the participating cliques is selected as the Program leader.

To protect the gang and to enhance its reputation, MS-13 members and associates are expected to use any means necessary to force respect from those who show disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence.  MS-13’s creed is based on one of its mottos, “Mata, roba, viola, controla,” which translates to, “kill, steal, rape, control.”

According to his plea agreement, from at least January 2015 through September 2016, Salmeron-Larios was a member of the PVLS clique and served as the MS-13 Maryland Program Leader.  Salmeron-Larios admitted to participating in numerous acts in furtherance of the racketeering conspiracy. 

For example, in April 2015, Salmeron-Larios and other MS-13 members and associates traveled to New York, met with MS-13 members there, and discussed MS-13 business.  Salmeron-Larios admitted that on November 7, 2015, he and other MS-13 members and associates traveled to Hyattsville, Maryland, intending to murder Victim 1, who was believed to be a member of the rival 18th Street Gang.  Two MS-13 co-conspirators lured Victim 1 to a location in Hyattsville.  Salmeron-Larios and two MS-13 co-conspirators, all armed with firearms, went to the meeting location.  Salmeron-Larios and the armed MS-13 co-conspirators got out of the car while another MS-13 accomplice waited in the vehicle.  The victim arrived in a car driven by another person and one of Salmeron-Larios’s MS-13 co-conspirators fired his handgun into the vehicle, attempting to kill Victim 1, who was struck in the face by one of the gunshots.  Salmeron-Larios and his accomplices returned to their vehicle and left the area.  The guns used during this crime, including the gun possessed by Salmeron-Larios, were taken to the residence of the co-conspirator who shot Victim 1.  Victim 1 survived the shooting but lost an eye, sustained loss of hand and leg function, and was permanently disfigured as a result of the shooting.  Salmeron-Larios participated in the shooting in order to gain entrance to, maintain, and increase his position in MS-13.

Salmeron-Larios admitted that in January 2016, he traveled to Florida and obtained firearms, which were distributed to MS-13 members for use in Maryland.  In addition, during the time of the conspiracy, Salmeron-Larios possessed and distributed controlled substances, including cocaine, for the benefit of MS-13.  Finally, on June 8 and June 9, 2016, Salmeron-Larios discussed an attack upon suspected rival gang members with other MS-13 members.  During several conversations, Salmeron-Larios discussed providing a firearm to a member of the Sailors Clique to be used against rival gang members in the area of 23rd Avenue in Langley Park “by the towers.” Salmeron-Larios instructed one individual where to find the loaded gun, and instructed another MS-13 member to loan a gun to a member of the Sailors Clique.

This case was made possible by investigative leads generated from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).  NIBIN is the only national network that allows for the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence to aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms.  NIBIN is a proven investigative and intelligence tool that can link firearms from multiple crime scenes, allowing law enforcement to quickly disrupt shooting cycles.  For more information on NIBIN, visit https://www.atf.gov/firearms/national-integrated-ballistic-information-network-nibin.

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.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the DEA; HSI Baltimore, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur also recognized the Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Departments of Corrections, HSI Baltimore’s Operation Community Shield Task Force, and the Maryland Department of Corrections Intelligence Unit for their assistance. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant United States Attorneys William D. Moomau, Catherine K. Dick, and Burden H. Walker, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

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Updated September 9, 2019