Baltimore, Maryland - A federal jury convicted three defendants today of multiple charges related to a racketeering enterprise 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 and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks made the announcement.
Jorge Enrique Moreno-Aguilar, aka Flaco and Castigato, 22, of District Heights, Maryland; Juan Alberto Ortiz-Orellana, aka Chele and Furia, 27, also of District Heights; and Minor Perez-Chach, aka Minor Chach-Perez, Little Bad and Bryant Sacarias, 25, of Hyattsville, Maryland, were convicted by a federal jury sitting in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. All three defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise and murder in aid of racketeering. Additionally, Moreno-Aguilar and Ortiz-Orellana were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, and Ortiz-Orellana and Chach-Perez were also convicted on various related firearms charges.
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, Montgomery County and Frederick County, Maryland. 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 murders, attempted murders, assaults and robberies in Prince George’s, Montgomery and Frederick Counties. Gang members also extorted brothel operators and owners of other illegal businesses and tampered with and retaliated against witnesses, among other crimes. Trial evidence demonstrated that Moreno-Aguilar and Ortiz-Orellana were members and associates of the MS-13 Sailors Locotes Salvatrucha Westside Clique and Perez-Chach was a member of the MS-13 Langley Park Salvatrucha Clique.
Trial evidence demonstrated that on January 2013, Moreno-Aguilar and Ortiz-Orellana targeted an individual associated with the rival 18th Street gang, obtained photographs of the victim and conspired to murder him with other members of MS-13. On March 12, 2013, Moreno-Aguilar and Ortiz-Orellana went to Capitol Heights, Maryland and shot the victim multiple times outside his home, killing him.
According to the trial evidence, in the early morning hours of Feb. 23, 2013, Perez-Chach met a man whom he believed to be a member of MS-13 who had testified against MS-13 members in federal trials. In fact, the victim was not the witness from the previous MS-13 trials, according to trial evidence. Perez-Chach followed the victim to his home in Hyattsville, where he stabbed the victim to death while another member of MS-13 attacked the victim with a machete, trial evidence demonstrated. Evidence presented at trial showed that during his arrest on May 20, 2013, Perez-Chach was found to be in illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
In addition to these convictions, 8 of the other 13 defendants charged in this investigation have pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy.
HSI Baltimore, Prince George’s County Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office and Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office investigated the case. Trial Attorneys Kevin Rosenberg and Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and Lindsay Eyler Kaplan are prosecuting the case.