10 January, 2011

MS-13 Members Convicted

MS-13 Members Convicted of Federal Racketeering Charges
Crimes Included Murder of One Victim, Maiming of Another
Three members of MS-13, a notorious and violent gang, were convicted on December 8,
2010 by a jury of numerous federal racketeering charges for a series of crimes, including a
murder that took place in the Washington, D.C. area in 2006 and 2007.
The defendants were convicted following a trial that began October 26, 2010 before the
Honorable Judge Richard J. Leon in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
They included William Cordova, 26, also known as “Centinella” or “Mario;” Jose Gutierrez, 21,
also known as “Astuto” or “Marco,” and Melvin Sorto, 24, also known as “Killer” or
“Fantasma.” Among other crimes, they were convicted of taking part in a conspiracy that
culminated in the murder of Edwin Ventura, 18, on April 22, 2007.
The men, all from the District of Columbia, were convicted of charges including murder in aid of
racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, maiming in aid of
racketeering, assaults with dangerous weapons in aid of racketeering, threats in aid of
racketeering, first degree murder while armed, assaults with intent to kill and other related
offenses. A sentencing date is scheduled for March 15, 2011. All three defendants face a
mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole.
All told, Cordova was convicted of 19 counts. Gutierrez was convicted of 16 counts, and Sorto
was convicted of nine counts.
FACTS: At trial, the government presented evidence of the defendants’ membership in a
criminal organization known as La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. The government
presented evidence of a conspiracy by the defendants and the MS-13 organization to commit
numerous violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity. The evidence included crimes of
assaults, threats, maiming, extortion, witness intimidation, assaults with intent to kill and the
murder of all rival gang members and persons that threatened the MS-13 Enterprise.
In reaching their verdicts, the jury found Cordova guilty of the assaults with a dangerous weapon
in aid of racketeering of Dennis Diaz-Gutierrez, Josue Levia, and Jhosimar Alvarez-Torrez, on
July 30, 2006, in the City of Alexandria, Virginia. The victims were shot numerous times as
they sat inside a car, stationary, at a traffic light.

In addition, the jury found Cordova, Gutierrez, and Sorto guilty of the murder of Ventura and the
assault with intent to kill of Nelson Maldonado, on April 22, 2007, in the 2900 block of Sherman
Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. The victims were shot numerous times in retaliation for an
ongoing feud with MS-13 members.
Cordova and Gutierrez were also convicted of the maiming and assault with intent to kill of
Feliciana Flores-Esquina Flores, on June 1, 2007, in the 3000 block of Georgia Avenue NW,
Washington, D.C. The victim was shot two times in the head as she stood at a bus stop.
The jury also found all three defendants guilty of numerous local District of Columbia related
“MS-13 is a ruthless street gang with international reach, but today’s verdicts make clear that its
brand of urban warfare will not be tolerated in the District of Columbia,” said U.S. Attorney
Machen. “This case demonstrated that MS-13 is willing to inflict violence on both rival gangs
and innocent citizens. These convictions demonstrate that law enforcement and the community
are united in our commitment to fight back and drive gang violence out of our neighborhoods.”
“MS-13 has used violence to spread fear throughout our community,” said Special Agent in
Charge Torres. “As demonstrated by this trial, local members of the MS-13 gang operated with
of a level of brutality alarming even by street gang standards. Today’s convictions send a clear
message that ICE HSI will continue to work with its partners to rein in violent gangs like MS-13
to protect everyone from their cold-blooded conduct."
The prosecution is the result of an investigation initiated by the United States Attorney’s Office,
ICE Homeland Security Investigations, MPD, the Capitol Area Regional Fugitive Task Force,
the City of Alexandria Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

No comments: