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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Ohio

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Lead defendant in MS-13 racketeering case sentenced to life in prison with no chance of release

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The lead defendant in a racketeering conspiracy involving five murders was sentenced in U.S. District Court here today.

Martin Neftali Aguilar-Rivera (a/k/a Momia), 34, of Columbus, was sentenced to life in prison by U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. for conspiring to commit racketeering and murder in aid of racketeering. Aguilar-Rivera accepted responsibility in July for participating in five murders.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Todd A. Wickerham, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, Rebecca Adducci, Detroit Field Office Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations, Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin and Interim Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan announced the sentence imposed this afternoon.

“This defendant’s ties to MS-13 in the Southern District of Ohio stretch back to the mid-2000s,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “From 2015 to the date of his arrest in August 2017, he was the unquestioned leader of the Columbus clique of MS-13. Under Aguilar-Rivera’s leadership, MS-13 members in Columbus became more organized, more violent, and more ruthless. He deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

In February 2018, 23 individuals were charged in a second superseding indictment and alleged to be members and associates of MS-13 in Columbus.

The defendants are charged in a racketeering conspiracy, which includes five murders as well as attempted murder, extortion, money laundering, drug trafficking, assault, obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, weapons offenses and immigration-related violations.

The second superseding indictment alleges that the defendants committed a host of overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, including: 1) the December 2006 murder of Jose Mendez, a suspected confidential informant, in Perry County; 2) the November 2008 murder of Ramon Ramos on Lockbourne Road in Columbus; 3) the mid-2015 murder of Carlos Serrano-Ramos, a suspected rival gang member, near Innis Road in Columbus; 4) the November 2015 murder of Wilson Villeda near Innis Road in Columbus; and 5) the December 2016 murder of Salvador Martinez-Diaz, a suspected rival gang member, on Melroy Avenue in Columbus.

The murders sometimes involved defendants using weapons like machetes, knives and hammers to attack and beat their victims to death. In two of the charged murders, the victims were stabbed and slashed with bladed weapons before being buried in a nearby park.

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI, ICE, Columbus Division of Police and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and the assistance of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Brian J. Martinez and Jessica H. Kim, who are prosecuting the case.

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Violent Crime
Updated October 16, 2019