Suspected MS-13 Members Charged with Violent Racketeering, Linked to Area Killings
Gang allegedly sent money from brothels and drug dealers to El Salvador
Via U.S. Justice Department
A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday accuses suspected members of the MS-13 gang of four killings in Maryland and Virginia, as well as extortion and drug dealing in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
The indictment names eight alleged members of the gang, which is based in El Salvador and has a growing presence in this area. The document identifies them as members of the Sailors Locos Salvatrucha Westside clique, commonly known as the Sailors.
The allegations are part of a racketeering conspiracy case. The U.S. Justice Department identifies MS-13 as a “racketeering enterprise.”
Seven suspects are from Prince George’s County. The eighth is 22-year-old Michael Eduardo Contreras of Silver Spring, who is known as “Katra” or “Insoportable,” which is Spanish for “unbearable.” All eight men are in custody.
Several defendants were linked in the indictment to high-profile murder cases already associated with MS-13.
Junior Noe Alvarado Requeno, a 22-year-old Landover man with the nicknames “Insolente” and “Trankilo,” was accused of conspiring to murder Christian Villagran Morales in Gaithersburg in June 2016—a violent killing for which several other suspected gang members are facing charges in Montgomery County.
The indictment also alleges that Contreras arranged for other members of the Sailors clique to travel to Lynchburg, Virginia, where they allegedly carried out the March 27 murder of a man in Bedford County. Contreras was not charged with that crime.
Carlos “Krusty” Tejada Cruz, 20, of Beltsville, and Kevin “Stop” Alexis Hernandez-Guevara, 20, of Landover Hills, were accused of stabbing to death a man who was believed to be in a rival gang in Hyattsville in July 2016.
Hyattsville resident Rolando Aristides Juarez-Vasquez, 22, known as “Virus” or “Daffy,” allegedly shot a man in the head on June 1 in Adelphi after displaying gang signs at him, according to the indictment.
In a non-fatal attack, Hernandez-Guevara and Jeffry “Hyper” Rodriguez, 21, of Beltsville, allegedly shot and stabbed two men in a car in Hyattsville on Aug. 9, 2016, in an attempt to steal marijuana.
The federal case against the eight alleged gang members comes as Montgomery County has seen a rise in violent crime. This month, the County Council approved about $840,000 in supplemental funding for the police department and State's Attorney's Office to tackle gang violence. There have been 20 homicides linked to gang killings in two years, State's Attorney John McCarthy said, including two men whose bodies were found in county parks in September.
The MS-13 gang uses violence to impose discipline on its members or to lash out at rival groups, according to the Justice Department.
The gang makes money through human trafficking, distribution of drugs and protection fees known as “la renta,” State’s Attorney John McCarthy told Bethesda Beat during a recent interview.
Contreras, Juarez-Vasquez and Luis “Pinguino” Fernando Orellana-Estrada, 18, of Hyattsville, allegedly extorted money from illegal businesses such as brothels, illegal food and beer stores, and drug dealers in Wheaton and Langley Park between 2015 and this year, according to the indictment.
The gang members allegedly sent that money back to El Salvador for use by gang leadership there. Between May 2016 and June 2017, some of the eight men, including Contreras, sent about nine Western Union money transfers of $100 to $400 to women in El Salvador, the indictment claims.
The Sailors clique also allegedly trafficked marijuana and cocaine in Langley Park, according to the Justice Department. Contreras was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Alvarado-Requino, Tejada-Cruz, Hernandez-Guevara and Juarez-Vasquez face a maximum sentence of life in prison, while the other four face shorter sentences for participating in racketeering and other crimes. Contreras faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for racketeering and another 20 years for the drug charges.