Fresno, California - Lorenzo Amador, 23, of Mendota, was sentenced on December 17, 2021, by United States District Judge Dale A. Drozd to five years and three months in prison for assault with a deadly weapon in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. 

According to court documents, Amador was a member of La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a violent criminal street gang that engages in racketeering activity, including murder, kidnapping, extortion, and drug trafficking. On August 12, 2018, Amador and fellow MS-13 members kicked, hit, and stabbed a member of a rival gang in the back with a knife, slicing his diaphragm and sending him to the emergency room where he had to have life-saving surgery.

After the attack, Amador logged on to his Facebook account and used coded language to send word of the attack to his fellow MS-13 members. His message was intercepted pursuant to lawful wiretap on the Facebook account of one of his fellow MS-13 members. In the days following the stabbing, Amador’s fellow MS-13 members called each other in frantic efforts to warn Amador that police might be closing in on him and to try to help him flee Mendota, which he did. Police eventually caught him two months later.

Amador also joined a drug conspiracy, which he participated in by driving to Los Angeles to help the gang pick up drugs, returning to Mendota with the drugs, and selling them for the gang.

The investigation was conducted by the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit, the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Special Services Unit (SSU). The CHP Special Operations Unit is a collaborative investigative effort between the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol that provides statewide enforcement to combat violent career criminals, gangs, and organized crime groups, along with intrastate drug traffickers. Assistant United States Attorneys Ross Pearson, Michael Tierney, and Kimberly Sanchez prosecuted the case.

Several of Amador’s co-defendants have been sentenced. One remaining defendant will be sentenced in 2022.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violewnt crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.