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Press Release

Illegal Alien MS-13 Member Convicted of Assaulting a Federal Witness, Drug Distribution, Immigration & Firearms Violations

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – September 17, 2018 – An illegal alien and MS-13 gang member from El Salvador was convicted today by a federal jury of using physical force to tamper with a witness; being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm; illegally re-entering the United States after previously being deported; multiple counts of cocaine distribution; and multiple counts of other firearms violations, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee and Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. 

Gerson Serrano-Ramirez, aka Frijole, 31, was indicted in August 2017 and convicted today on all counts after a 3-day jury trial in U.S. District Court in Nashville. 

“The jury’s verdict will ensure that another violent criminal alien will be removed from our community for a very long period of time and he will have little, if any, chance of ever inflicting harm outside of his new home - a federal penitentiary,” said U.S. Attorney Cochran.  “I commend the excellent work of our law enforcement partners and our prosecutors and appreciate the jury’s time and attention during this trial.”

“MS-13 is one of the most violent and dangerous gangs in America, and the conduct that occurred in this case is further evidence of the gang’s ruthlessness,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “The Department of Justice and our law enforcement colleagues are committed to combatting MS-13 here in the Middle District of Tennessee and in every other jurisdiction where the gang operates.  We will seek out members of MS-13 and other violent gangs wherever they may be and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

According to evidence and testimony presented at trial, in July 2017 the activities of Seranno-Ramirez and other MS-13 Gang members were disrupting the normal operation and business of a local night club and this was brought to the attention of Seranno-Ramirez by an acquaintance, with a request to tone down their disruptive behavior.  Seranno-Ramirez later invited the individual to his home in the Antioch, Tennessee area, where he subsequently assaulted him by pointing an assault rifle at him; strangling him with the rifle strap; spraying bleach into his eyes; and then attempted to suffocate him by placing a plastic bag over his head.  Finally, while clamping the individual’s finger with a pair of pliers and holding an assault rifle on him, Seranno-Ramirez told the individual that if he told anyone about the assault that he would kill him and his mother. 

Evidence introduced during the trial also included video of the assault which was captured on an in-home security system at Seranno-Ramirez’ house and videos of him packaging and selling cocaine from the residence.  This video was discovered and seized during the subsequent execution of a search warrant.  Also seized during this search was an AK-47 assault rifle; multiple rifle magazines; 582 rounds of ammunition; body armor; and a small amount of cocaine and marijuana.

Serrano-Ramirez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 30 years, up to life in prison when he is sentenced on January 28, 2019.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; Homeland Security Investigations – Immigration & Customs Enforcement; and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Gang Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Ahmed Safeeullah and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Matthew Hoff prosecuted the case.


David Boling
Public Information Officer

Updated September 17, 2018

Violent Crime