Two Maryland MS-13 Members Sentenced to Federal Prison for Shootings and Murders in Violent Racketeering Conspiracy
Separate 2012 Murders of Woman and Man Illustrate Danger and Extreme Cruelty of MS-13 Gang
Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus today sentenced Eric Antonio Mejia-Ramos, aka “Flaco,” age 22, of Hyattsville, Maryland, today to life in prison, for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, including participating in a murder. Mejia-Ramos was convicted by a federal jury on September 30, 2016.
Yesterday, on January 4, Judge Titus sentenced Luis Guzman-Ventura, a/k/a “Casper,” age 23, of Hyattsville to 30 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, on the same charge. Guzman-Ventura pleaded guilty on September 13, 2016, just before the first day of trial.
The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; 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 Douglas Holland of the Hyattsville Police Department; and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks.
“This case illustrates the extreme danger and cruelty of the MS-13 gang,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Members murder young men and women just because they think the victims belong to rival gangs.”
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 Guzman-Ventura’s plea agreement and evidence presented at Mejia-Ramos’ three-week trial, from at least 2009 through 2014, members and associates of MS-13, including Mejia-Ramos and Guzman-Ventura, planned and engaged in 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. During that time, Mejia-Ramos was a member of the MS-13 Parkview Locotes Salvatrucha clique, and Guzman-Ventura was a member of the Weedons Clique of MS-13.
According to evidence presented at trial, on the night of August 28, 2012, Mejia-Ramos plotted with other gang members to kill Ingrid Martinez because they thought she belonged to a rival gang. Mejia-Ramos lured the victim to a park in Beltsville and shot her to death.
Guzman-Ventura admitted that on December 5, 2012, he was the front seat passenger in a vehicle being driven by another MS-13 member, Jose Rodriguez-Nunez. Guzman-Ventura admitted that he shot at three individuals believed to be rival gang members, killing Eliezer Reyes and wounding a second victim. Rodriguez-Nunez, a/k/a “Killer,” age 27, of Hyattsville, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to being the driver in the drive-by shooting and is detained pending sentencing, scheduled for January 9, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.
Fourteen of the 15 defendants charged in this investigation have been convicted for their roles in the racketeering conspiracy. The final defendant is a fugitive.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI Baltimore, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Hyattsville Police Department; and the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein also recognized the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office, 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, Lindsay Eyler Kaplan, and Trial Attorney Catherine Dick with the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, who are prosecuting this case.