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, aka Insolente, aka Trankilo, 25, and Miguel Angel Corea Diaz, aka Reaper, 39, were convicted of multiple racketeering-related offenses. Alverado-Requeno and Corea-Diaz were both convicted on racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, murder in aid of racketeering, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
“MS-13 terrorizes communities across the western hemisphere using fear, violence, and intimidation,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. 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 of HSI, FBI, DEA, Montgomery County Police, Prince George’s County Police and Bedford County Sheriff’s Office makes for a strong team, and other criminal elements operating in the area should take notice; we will come after them as well.”
“Criminal organizations, drugs, and violence are inextricably linked,” said Administrator Anne Milgram of 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 held the title of Primera Palabra, or “First Word,” for the entire east coast. Alvarado-Requeno was the First Word of the Sailors for the Sailors in Maryland.
According to evidence presented at the four-week trial, between 2015 and 2018, the defendants controlled and operated the Sailors Locos Salvatruchos Westside (SLSW or Sailors) through a pattern of racketeering activity, including murder, extortion, drug trafficking, money laundering, and witness tampering. 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. A large share of the proceeds of the gang’s illegal activities were sent to gang leadership in El Salvador to further promote the illicit activities of the gang, using structured transactions and intermediaries to avoid law enforcement scrutiny.
The Sailors Clique committed acts of violence against suspected rival gang members, as well as its own membership for breaking gang rules. In June 2016, Alvarado-Requeno ordered members of the Sailors Clique to murder a suspected rival in the woods at Malcolm King Park in 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. In fact, the victim did not belong to any gang.
In March 2017, a member of the Sailors Clique who was hiding from law enforcement in the Lynchburg, Virginia, area had a dispute with a local high school student over 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 kidnapped the student from his front lawn and cut his hand off before killing him. After the murder, the defendants helped to hide and protect the killers from law enforcement.
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. The boy’s remains were discovered eighteen months later in the woods outside of Germantown, Maryland.
The jury made special findings beyond a reasonable doubt that as part of the racketeering conspiracy, Alvarado-Requeno murdered two other individuals and, as part of the racketeering conspiracy, Correa Diaz conspired to murder a third person.
Alvarado-Requeno was convicted of three counts each of murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine. Corea Diaz was convicted of one count each of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and murder in aid of racketeering; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, cocaine, and heroin; and possession with intent to distribute heroin. Alvarado-Requeno and Corea-Diaz each face mandatory sentences of life imprisonment.
The FBI’s Washington Field Office, HSI Baltimore, the DEA’s New York Field Division and Baltimore District Office, Prince George’s County Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, and Bedford County Sherriff’s Office investigated the case. Nassau County District Attorney’s Office provided valuable assistance.
Trial Attorneys Julie Finocchiaro and Alexander Gottfried of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Hagan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland are prosecuting the case.