BALTIMORE — An investigation headed by the Homeland Safety Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Subject Workplace resulted in a life sentence for a infamous gang member for a racketeering conspiracy involving two murders. On Could 6, Oscar Armando Sorto Romero, a/ok/a “Lobo,” age 23, was sentenced to serve life in federal jail for the racketeering conspiracy and for racketeering, in addition to associated violent crimes in help of racketeering, together with two murders, related to his participation in La Mara Salvatrucha, a transnational felony enterprise also referred to as MS-13.
On January 24, 2022, a federal jury convicted Sorto Romero of the racketeering fees, together with co-defendants Jose Joya Parada, a/ok/a “Calmado,” age 21, Milton Portillo-Rodriguez, a/ok/a “Little Gangster,” age 26; and Juan Carlos Sandoval-Rodriguez, a/ok/a “Picaro,” age 24, after a three-month trial. Portillo-Rodriguez and Sandoval-Rodriguez have been additionally convicted of a number of counts of homicide in help of racketeering.
The investigation was led by HSI Baltimore with important help from the U.S Lawyer for the District of Maryland, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Baltimore Subject Workplace, the Frederick Metropolis (Md.) Police Division, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Workplace, the Frederick County State’s Lawyer’s Workplace, the Anne Arundel County Police Division, the Anne Arundel County State’s Lawyer’s Workplace, Prince George’s County Police Division, the Prince George’s County State’s Lawyer’s Workplace, the Montgomery County Police Division; and the Montgomery County State’s Lawyer’s Workplace.
The investigation revealed that between 2015 and 2017, the defendants engaged in drug trafficking, extortion, and brutal acts of violence towards suspected rivals of the gang in an effort to extend MS-13’s energy within the Frederick County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County areas of Maryland.
Always of this conspiracy, members of MS-13 have been anticipated to guard the title, fame, and standing of the gang from rival gang members and different individuals. To guard the gang and to boost its fame, MS-13 members have been anticipated to make use of any means essential to pressure respect from those that confirmed disrespect, together with acts of intimidation and violence.
“The atrocity of Oscar Armando Sorto Romero’s crimes was mirrored within the severity of his sentence; at present he’ll start to face the implications for the life he selected,” mentioned performing Particular Agent in Cost of HSI Baltimore Selwyn Smith. “HSI is proud to have labored with our federal, state, and native legislation enforcement companions to deliver Sorto Romero to justice. His sentence ought to function a warning to anybody who may think about an identical path. HSI Baltimore will proceed to work to guard the law-abiding residents of Maryland from infamous felony components like MS-13.”
MS-13 is a nationwide and worldwide gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador and different central American nations. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of many largest avenue gangs in the USA, function all through Frederick County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County, Maryland. Sorto Romero was a member of the Parque Vista Locos Salvatruchas (“PVLS”) clique and his co-defendants have been members of the Fulton Locos Salvatruchas (“FLS”) clique.
MS-13 had mottos in keeping with its guidelines, beliefs, expectations and fame together with “mata, viola, controla,” which interprets as, “kill, rape, management,” and “ver, oir y callar,” which implies, “see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing.” One of many principal guidelines of MS-13 is that its members should assault and kill rivals, also known as “chavalas,” at any time when potential.
MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence each to take care of membership and self-discipline throughout the gang, in addition to towards rival gang members. Participation in felony exercise by a member, notably in violent acts directed at rival gangs or as directed by gang management, enhance the respect accorded to that member, leading to that member sustaining or rising his place within the gang, and opens the door to promotion to a management place.
The investigation additional established that from 2015 by 2017, the Fulton clique of MS-13 sought to extend its presence in Frederick, Wheaton, and Annapolis, Maryland by quite a few acts of violence, extortion, and drug gross sales. Trial proof centered on the defendants’ participation in 4 grisly murders of these suspected of affiliation with rival gang members carried out in 2017.
Trial proof associated to Sorto-Romero centered on his participation in two of these 4 murders. First, on April 2, 2017, the gang kidnapped a person from Silver Spring, Maryland and introduced him to a wooded space in Frederick, the place he was killed with knives and machetes earlier than being buried in a shallow grave. Earlier than being taken to Frederick, the sufferer, who was extraordinarily intoxicated, was held in a basement laundry room in Wheaton, Maryland by members and associates of MS-13, together with by co-defendant Joya Parada. Contained in the laundry room, the sufferer was compelled to take away his shirt in order that gang members may look at his tattoos to fulfill themselves that the sufferer was related to a rival gang and will subsequently be killed.
Sorto Romero was contacted by members of MS-13 to help with the sufferer’s homicide. He agreed to help so long as different, extra junior gang members may take part to maneuver up within the gang. Sorto Romero organized autos to move the sufferer and different members of MS-13 to the wooded space in Frederick the place the sufferer can be killed. Sorto Romero and others went to the laundry room the place the sufferer was being held, and so they positioned him within the backseat of a automobile through which Sorto Romero was a passenger. Within the meantime, Joya Parada and different members of MS-13 went to the woods in Frederick with weapons and a shovel to dig a grave and to attend for the sufferer’s arrival. Sorto Romero ultimately arrived with the sufferer, delivering the sufferer to different members of MS-13 who have been ready, together with Joya Parada. A member of MS-13 incapacitated the sufferer by hitting him within the head with a tree department. Joya Parada and others then dragged the sufferer by the woods to the outlet they’d dug for the sufferer’s grave. They positioned the sufferer face down on the bottom subsequent to the outlet and stabbed and slashed his physique repeatedly with a machete. Joya Parada personally participated on this homicide not solely by slashing the sufferer with the lengthy fringe of the machete blade, but in addition by plunging the purpose of the machete into the sufferer’s again quite a few occasions. The sufferer died on account of the blunt pressure trauma, stabbing, chopping, and chopping inflicted by Joya Parada and his co-conspirators. Sorto Romero then picked up a number of gang members who participated within the homicide to drive them house. Throughout their drive again, MS-13 members stopped to eliminate the machete in a storm drain and threw a shovel away in a dumpster.
On August 5, 2017, MS-13 lured one other sufferer to Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. When he arrived, the sufferer was hit within the head with a hammer and slashed with a machete till he died. The trial proof revealed that the sufferer was a low-level member of the PVLS clique of MS-13 (the identical clique as Sorto Romero) and was suspected of warning one among his kin, who was believed to be in a rival gang, that he was an MS-13 goal. Sorto Romero and co-defendant Portillo Rodriguez participated within the planning and execution of the homicide of this sufferer. As soon as the sufferer arrived, an MS-13 member who was a part of the PVLS clique hit the sufferer within the head with a hammer. The sufferer screamed after he was hit. Then, members of MS-13 dragged the sufferer to a gap that had been dug deeper within the woods. Sorto Romero and Portillo Rodriguez assisted in digging the outlet earlier that day. As soon as on the gap, Sorto Romero, Portillo Rodriguez, and different members of MS-13 took turns putting the sufferer’s neck and shoulder space with a machete in an unsuccessful effort to decapitate the sufferer. Though they have been unable to decapitate the sufferer, Sorto Romero, Portillo Rodriguez, and others struck the sufferer quite a few occasions till he died. The sufferer was then buried in a clandestine grave within the park. After the homicide, members of MS-13 took clothes and different proof to a close-by home the place the clothes was burned in a grill.
In keeping with the investigation, these murders have been all meant to take care of and enhance the standing of MS-13, in addition to enable particular person MS-13 members to take care of or enhance their standing throughout the gang. Greater than 30 MS-13 gang members and associates have been convicted on this and a associated case.
On April 20, 2022, Jose Joya Parada, a/ok/a “Calmado,” age 20, was sentenced to 50 years in federal jail, for a racketeering conspiracy, racketeering, and associated violent crimes in help of racketeering. Portillo-Rodriguez and Sandoval-Rodriguez every face a compulsory sentence of life in jail for every of the homicide in help of racketeering fees. Chief Choose Bredar has scheduled sentencing for Portillo Rodriguez for Could 13, 2022, at 10 a.m and for Sandoval Rodriguez for Could 25, 2022, at 2:30 p.m.
This case is a part of Undertaking Protected Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing collectively all ranges of legislation enforcement and the communities they serve to cut back violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everybody. Undertaking Protected Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Division of Justice’s violent crime discount efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program confirmed to be efficient at decreasing violent crime. By way of PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work collectively to establish essentially the most urgent violent crime issues locally and develop complete options to deal with them. As a part of this technique, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on essentially the most violent offenders and companions with domestically based mostly prevention and reentry applications for lasting reductions in crime.
This case is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Job Drive (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level felony organizations that threaten the USA utilizing a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency strategy that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and native legislation enforcement companies towards felony networks.
Anybody with details about MS-13 is inspired to supply their tricks to legislation enforcement. Homeland Safety Investigations has a nationwide tip line you can name to report what you realize. You’ll be able to attain HSI at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.