Eric Antonio Mejia-Ramos, aka “Flaco,” age 22, of Hyattsville, Maryland, was sentenced today to life in prison, for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, including participating in a murder. Mejia-Ramos was convicted by a federal jury on September 30, 2016.
On January 4, 2017, Luis Guzman-Ventura, a/k/a “Casper,” age 23, of Hyattsville was sentenced to 360 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, on the same charge. Guzman-Ventura pleaded guilty on September 13, 2016, just before the first day of trial.
“Every sentence handed down in this case should serve as a message to other criminal organizations,” said Andre R. Watson, Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Baltimore.
“HSI and its law enforcement partners prioritize the takedown of an entire criminal network. The person who orders a hit or drives a getaway car is just as guilty as the triggerman.”
According to Guzman-Ventura’s plea agreement and evidence presented at Mejia-Ramos’ three-week trial, from at least 2009 through 2014, members and associates of MS-13, including Mejia-Ramos and Guzman-Ventura, planned and engaged in crimes to further the interests of the gang, including murder, assault, robbery, extortion by threat of violence, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and witness retaliation.
During that time, Mejia-Ramos was a member of the MS-13 Parkview Locotes Salvatrucha clique, and Guzman-Ventura was a member of the Weedons Clique of MS-13.
Based on evidence presented at trial, on the night of August 28, 2012, Mejia-Ramos plotted with other gang members to kill a woman they believed to be a rival gang member. Mejia-Ramos lured the woman to a park in Beltsville, where he shot the woman to death.
As part of his plea agreement, Guzman-Ventura admitted that on December 5, 2012, he was the front seat passenger in a vehicle being driven by another MS-13 member, Jose Rodriguez-Nunez.
Guzman-Ventura admitted that he shot at three individuals believed to be rival gang members, killing one and wounding another.
After the shooting, Rodriguez-Nunez fled the scene to avoid being identified.
Jose Rodriguez-Nunez, aka “Killer,” age 27, of Hyattsville, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to being the driver in the drive-by shooting and is detained pending sentencing, scheduled for January 9, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.
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.
Fourteen of the 15 defendants charged in this investigation have been convicted for their roles in the racketeering conspiracy. The final defendant is a fugitive.
The investigation was led by Homeland Security Investigations special agents out of Baltimore and was conducted under the auspices of HSI’s Operation Community Shield Task Force with support from the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, the Hyattsville City Police Department and the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Maryland Department of Corrections Intelligence Unit.