A federal jury today convicted two Hyattsville, Maryland, men on charges related to the racketeering enterprise activity of a gang known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Field Office; Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Police Department; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.
Eric Antonio Mejia-Ramos, aka Flaco, 22, and Miguel Angel Manjivar, aka Masflow and Garra, 25, were both found guilty of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise by a federal jury sitting in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. In addition, Manjivar was found guilty of murder in aid of racketeering. U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus of the District of Maryland scheduled sentencing for Mejia Ramos on Jan. 5, 2017, and Manjivar on Jan. 23, 2017.
MS-13 is a national and transnational gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership and discipline within the gang. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible.
According to evidence presented at trial, from at least 2009 through October 2014, MS-13 members planned and committed numerous crimes, including murders, attempted murders, kidnappings, assaults, robberies and witness tampering and retaliation in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. Gang members also extorted brothel operators and owners of other illegal businesses and tampered with and retaliated against witnesses, among other crimes. Mejia-Ramos was a member of the MS-13 Parkview Locotes Salvatrucha Clique and Manjivar was a member of the MS-13 Peajes Locotes Salvatrucha Clique.
Trial evidence showed that on Sept. 16, 2010, Manjivar shot and killed an individual he believed to be a rival gang member on the footbridge of a park in Hyattsville. On Jan. 10, 2011, Manjivar and other MS-13 members murdered a person they believed was a rival gang member and attempted to murder another purported rival gang member in a parking lot in Hyattsville. Manjivar and others repeatedly punched, kicked and stabbed the victims, one of whom survived the attack.
In addition, trial evidence demonstrated that on Jan. 13, 2011, Manjivar attended a Peajes Clique meeting, where he criticized other MS-13 members for not committing enough violent crimes. Manjivar then left in a mini-van driven by a co-defendant with other Peajes members as passengers, and as a group, they attacked a person they believed to be an associate of a rival gang and dragged him back into the vehicle. Manjivar and others continued to assault him, at times attempting to use a seat belt to strangle the victim, as well as kicked, stabbed and choked him. Trial evidence demonstrated that they forcefully stripped the victim of his heavy winter clothing in order to stab him, and then dragged him into the woods, where they left him for dead and fled. The victim survived the attack.
According to evidence presented at trial, on the night of Aug. 28, 2012, Mejia-Ramos lured a woman he believed to be a rival gang member to a park in Beltsville, Maryland, telling her they were going to party. He then shot the woman to death.
In addition to these convictions, eight of the 13 defendants charged in this investigation have pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy and two have been convicted.
HSI Baltimore, Prince George’s County Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Prince George’s State’s Attorney’s Office and Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office investigated the case. Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS) and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and Lindsay Eyler Kaplan of the District of Maryland are prosecuting the case. Former OCGS Trial Attorney Kevin Rosenberg assisted in the prosecution of this case.