Yesterday, a federal jury in Maryland convicted two El Salvadorian nationals for conspiring to participate in La Mara Salvatrucha, a transnational criminal enterprise, commonly known as MS-13.
Junior Noe Alvarado–Requeno, also known as Insolente, 25,, and Miguel Angel Corea Diaz (aka Reaper), 39, were both convicted of racketeering-related charges. Corea-Diaz and Alverado-Requeno were both convicted of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to murder in aid to racketeering.
“MS-13 terrorizes communities across the western hemisphere using fear, violence, and intimidation,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. is the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “MS-13 exploits undocumented people and those communities that may not have easy access to law enforcement. This prosecution demonstrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to dismantling this criminal organization and protecting all people.”
“The brutal and tragic violence perpetrated by these MS-13 members and their fellow gang is totally unacceptable,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland and our local and state partners are working together to remove these violent gang members to keep our communities safe from the threat of MS-13. We will continue to work to bring to justice these transnational gangs, but we need the continued help of members of our communities in order to carry on our work against MS-13.”
“This investigation is an example of the dedication and hard work of not only the FBI, but also the Northern Virginia Safe Streets/HIDTA task force, and all our partners who work each day to fight the crime and violence that terrorize communities,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The FBI will continue to take steps to aggressively target and pursue leaders of transnational criminal gangs like MS-13, who have been involved in scores of criminal activity. These criminal acts, such as racketeering, murder, extortion, drug trafficking, money laundering, and witness tampering will not be tolerated, and these two guilty verdicts are clear examples of law enforcement’s resolve to eradicate these violent gangs.”
“This verdict not only deals a crippling blow for MS-13 operating on the east coast, it also represents a victory for the citizens terrorized by MS-13,” said Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore. “The partnership between HSI and FBI, DEA Montgomery County Police, Prince George’s County Police, and Bedford County Sheriff’s Office creates a strong team. Other criminal elements operating within the area should pay attention; we will also come after them .”
Criminal organizations, drug trafficking, and violence are all inextricably connected,” stated Administrator Anne Milgram from the Drug Enforcement Administration. “There is no better example than MS-13, which is notorious for its ruthless tactics to further its criminal activities. Today’s convictions will prevent these MS-13 leaders from inflicting brutality on our communities. DEA is committed to the tireless interagency and international efforts to remove the malignant presence of drug trafficking organizations and safeguard the health and well-being of Americans.”
According to court documents, MS-13 is organized into a series of sub-units or “cliques” that operate in specific geographic locations, and each clique is typically controlled by a single leader, sometimes known as the “First Word.” Alvarado-Requeno and Corea Diaz were both leaders of the Sailors clique. Corea Diaz was Primera Palabra ,, or the “First Word” for the east coast. Alvarado-Requeno was the First word of the Sailors to the Sailors of Maryland.
According to the evidence at the four-week trial the defendants controlled and ran the Sailors Locos Salvatruchos Westside. This was a pattern racketeering activity that included murder, extortion and drug trafficking. Money laundering and witness tampering were also some of the activities. Evidence showed that the gang ran a protection scheme in and around its home base in Langley Park, Maryland, and extorted local businesses by charging them “rent” for the privilege of operating in MS-13 “territory.” The gang also trafficked in illegal drugs, including marijuana, heroin, and cocaine. To further promote the illegal activities of the gang, a large portion of the proceeds were sent to El Salvador’s gang leadership. They used intermediaries and structured transactions to avoid scrutiny from law enforcement.
The Sailors Clique was responsible for violence against rival gang members and its own members for violating gang rules. In June 2016, AlvaradoRequeno directed members of the Sailors Clique, to kill a suspect rival in the woods at Malcolm King Park near Gaithersburg. Luring him with the promise of sex with a female MS-13 associate, the gang members ambushed the teenaged victim and stabbed him 153 times. The victim was not a member of any gang.
In March 2017,, a member the Sailors Clique was hiding from authorities in Lynchburg, Virginia. He had a disagreement with a high school student about marijuana. In response, Alvarado-Requeno and Corea-Diaz commanded a squad of MS-13 members to drive down to Lynchburg and murder this high school student. The gang members took the student from his front yard and cut off his hand before killing him. The defendants assisted in hiding and protecting the killers from police enforcement after the murder.
Among the most important rules of MS-13 is the prohibition against talking to law enforcement, embodied by the maxim ver, oir, y callar – see, hear, and say nothing. The gang enforced this rule by placing a “green light” – an order to kill – on any member of MS-13 who was thought to be informing on the gang. In December 2016, Alvarado-Requeno directed and participated in the murder of a 14-year-old member of MS-13 who was suspected of talking to the police. Eighteen months later, the boy’s remains were found in woods near Germantown, Maryland.
The jury found that Alvarado-Requeno had murdered two others as part of a racketeering plot. Correa Diaz also conspired with Alvarado to kill a third person as part the racketeering plot.
Alvarado Requeno was convicted on three counts of murder in the aid of racketeering, conspiracy to murder in aid to racketeering, and conspiracy with intent to possess marijuana and cocaine. Corea Diaz was convicted on one count each for conspiracy to murder in aid to racketeering, murder in aid to racketeering, conspiracy to possess heroin, cocaine and marijuana; and possession with the intent to distribute heroin. Corea-Diaz and Alvarado-Requeno each face life imprisonment.
The FBI’s Washington Field Office and HSI Baltimore, DEA’s New York Field Division, Baltimore District Office, Prince George’s County Police Department and Montgomery County Police Department investigated the case. The valuable assistance of the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office was invaluable.
Trial Attorneys Julie Finocchiaro and Alexander Gottfried, both from the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Hagan of U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Maryland, are prosecuting this case.
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