A Columbia, Maryland, man pleaded guilty today to his participation in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, including his participation in an attempted murder.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco 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); Chief James Tom Kemp of the Greenbelt Police Department; Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks.
Celvin Eulice Ramos-Meija, aka Cadejo, 21, Ramos-Mejia pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte in the District of Maryland to conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted murder in aid of racketeering. Ramos-Mejia had been detained on related Maryland state charges since June 2016. Sentencing is set for June 22, 2017.
MS-13 is a national and international gang that was formed and is headquartered in El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Frederick, Maryland. MS-13 members 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.
According to his plea agreement, Ramos-Mejia admitted that for the purpose of maintaining and increasing his position in MS-13, he conspired with other MS-13 members to murder a victim that he and his co-conspirators had identified as a “chavala.”
Specifically, the Ramos-Mejia admitted that on June 6, 2016, he and other members and associates of MS-13 approached the victim in Greenbelt, Maryland. The defendant made an MS-13 sign in the face of the victim, and then he and his co-conspirators began to attack the victim. The victim survived the attack, but sustained multiple stab wounds and injuries, including lacerations to his abdomen, liver and diaphragm. The victim was hospitalized for 10 days as a result of the attack.
HSI Baltimore, the Greenbelt Police Department, the Prince George’s County Police Department, and the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office investigated the case. Trial Attorney Francesca Liquori of the Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and Lindsay Eyler Kaplan of the District of Maryland are prosecuting the case.