MS-13 Member Apprehended after Being Placed on FBI’s 10 Most-Wanted Fugitives List Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison
Admitted Murdering Union County Man as Part of Racketeering Conspiracy
NEWARK, N.J. – An MS-13 member previously named one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives was sentenced today to 300 months in prison for killing a Plainfield, New Jersey, man on behalf of the gang, and agreeing that a conspirator would commit multiple violent acts for the gang, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Walter Yovany-Gomez, a/k/a “Cholo,” 35, who was a fugitive residing in the Maryland/Virginia area from 2011 to 2017, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to an information charging him with one count of racketeering conspiracy. Judge Chesler imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
“This defendant committed a vicious murder and conspired with another MS-13 member to commit further acts of violence,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “When he fled New Jersey and became a fugitive, our partners at the FBI diligently pursued and eventually captured him. Today’s sentence ensures that he will now remain behind bars for a substantial period of time, thus preserving the safety of the community and punishing him appropriately for his actions.”
“Walter Yovany-Gomez thought he could steal someone’s life and escape unscathed. He obviously underestimated the men and women of the FBI,” Special Agent-in-Charge Gregory W. Ehrie, FBI-Newark, said. “Members of blood-thirsty gangs, like MS-13, who devalue life as part of their business model, need to know that our life’s work is dedicated to keeping our citizens safe and we won't rest until we accomplish that mission.”
According to documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court:
In September 2013, a Newark grand jury indicted Yovany-Gomez for murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder in an indictment that charged 14 members of Plainfield Locos Salvatrucha (PLS), a New Jersey branch of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) transnational gang, with various gang-related offenses. The charges against Yovany-Gomez focused on the May 2011 murder of Julio Matute, whom law enforcement officers discovered beaten and stabbed to death in Matute’s Plainfield apartment. Yovany-Gomez fled New Jersey after officers went to Yovany-Gomez’s residence to question him.
In April 2017, the FBI placed Yovany-Gomez on its 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List. On Aug. 12, 2017, he was arrested without incident in Woodbridge, Virginia, based on tips received from the public.
Between 2014 and 2016, all 13 of Yovany-Gomez’s co-defendants charged in the September 2013 federal indictment were convicted, including eight MS-13 members who were convicted following a 16-week trial that ended in June 2016.
In May 2011, MS-13 leaders, members, and associates, including Yovany-Gomez, plotted to murder Matute, a PLS recruit, because they believed Matute had been socializing with rival gang members.
On May 8, 2011, Yovany-Gomez and fellow MS-13 member Cruz Flores, a/k/a “Bruja” traveled to Matute’s Plainfield apartment to carry out the murder, meeting Matute and another individual at the residence. After consuming alcohol and controlled substances with the other three individuals, Matute retired to his bedroom to sleep. When Matute attempted to leave the apartment several hours later for work, Yovany-Gomez and Flores assaulted and killed Matute. During the attack, Yovany-Gomez and Flores struck Matute in the head with an aluminum baseball bat, sliced Matute’s throat with a knife, and stabbed Matute in the back 17 times with a screwdriver. Yovany-Gomez and Flores threatened to harm the individual who witnessed the murder if that person went to the police.
Several weeks after the murder, officers went to question Yovany-Gomez at his residence. When they knocked on his door, Yovany-Gomez jumped out of a second-floor window and fled. PLS members and associates later drove Yovany-Gomez to the Maryland/Virginia area so he could avoid being arrested and prosecuted in connection with the murder. Yovany-Gomez remained in the Maryland/Virginia area until his arrest in August 2017, adopting an alias to further avoid law enforcement detection.
Flores was found guilty of the murder during the trial described above.
In addition to the Matute murder, Yovany-Gomez agreed as part of the racketeering conspiracy that another conspirator would commit multiple acts of violence on behalf of MS-13.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Chesler sentenced Yovany-Gomez to five years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ehrie; and officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations, under the direction Newark Field Office Director John Tsoukaris. He also thanked the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo, for its assistance. The FBI Washington Field Office’s Violent Crimes Task Force, the Fairfax County Police Department’s Gang Unit, and the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force coordinated the local search for and arrest of Yovany-Gomez. U.S. Attorney Carpenito also acknowledged the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of Virginia and the District of Maryland for their assistance in the ongoing investigation.
The government is represented by Senior Trial Counsel Jamari Buxton and James Donnelly, Chief of the Violent Crimes Unit of the U.S Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.