MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Participate in A Violent Racketeering Enterprise

A Maryland gang member pleaded guilty today to his participation in a racketeering enterprise in furtherance of the activities of the gang known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur for the District of Maryland, Acting Special Agent in Charge Scott Hoernke of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Washington Field Division, Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Field Office, Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department, Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks, Chief Amal Awad of the Hyattsville Police Department and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy made the announcement.

Kevin Alexis Hernandez-Guevara, aka “Stop,” 22, a citizen of El Salvador illegally residing in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before the Honorable Judge Paula Xinis in the District of Maryland to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise.  Hernandez-Guevara is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 15, 2019.

According to the plea agreement, MS-13 is a gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, with members operating in the State of Maryland, including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Frederick County, and throughout the United States.  Branches or “cliques” of MS-13 often work together cooperatively to engage in criminal activity and to assist one another in avoiding detection by law enforcement.  MS-13 members and associates are required to commit acts of violence within the gang and against rival gangs.  One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible. 

Pursuant to his plea agreement, Hernandez-Guevara admitted that from at least July 2016, he was a member and associate of the Sailors Clique.  Hernandez-Guevara admitted to participating in numerous acts in furtherance of the racketeering conspiracy.

For example, according to the plea agreement, on or about July 29, 2016, Hernandez-Guevara and three other members and associates of MS-13 planned and conspired to murder Victim-2, who was believed to be a member of a rival gang.  On July 29, 2016, pursuant to that plan, Hernandez-Guevara and other MS-13 members and associates lured Victim-2 to a secluded area in Hyattsville, Prince George’s County, Maryland.  One of the MS-13 members and associates shot at Victim-2, and missed.  Hernandez-Guevara collected the fired shell casings from the gunshots fired by Hernandez-Guevara’s co-conspirator.  Multiple MS-13 members and associates then assaulted and stabbed Victim-2 with the intention of killing him.  Victim-2 died as a result of injuries sustained during this attack, which included 61 sharp force injuries.

Additionally, according to the plea agreement, on or about Aug. 9, 2016, in Hyattsville, Hernandez-Guevara and other MS-13 members and associates planned and attempted to rob Victim-3 and Victim-4 of a pound of marijuana that Victim-3 and Victim-4 were going to sell to Hernandez-Guevara and his co-conspirators.  During the attempt, Victim-3 and Victim-4 resisted.  In the course of the struggle, Victim-3 and Victim-4 were shot, stabbed, and sustained serious, permanent, and life threatening bodily injuries.  Hernandez-Guevara and another co-conspirator were also shot. 

Hernandez-Guevara also admitted to distributing less than one kilogram of marijuana for and on behalf of the Sailors Clique.  His activities included receiving and distributing marijuana and proceeds from the sale of marijuana. 

Eight of Hernandez-Guevara’s co-defendants remain charged in the sixth superseding indictment with various racketeering violations, drug trafficking conspiracy, and extortion conspiracy.  The trial of the eight remaining defendants is scheduled to commence on March 12, 2019.

An indictment is merely an allegation.  Those defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

HSI Baltimore, FBI Washington Field Office, DEA Washington Field Office, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Prince George’s State’s Attorney’s Office, the Hyattsville Police Department, and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office investigated this case.  Trial Attorney Francesca Liquori of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau, Catherine K. Dick, and Daniel C. Gardner are prosecuting this case.

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Author: November 9, 2018