Baltimore, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Court Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Fermin Gomez-Jimenez, age 23, of Annapolis, Maryland, to 38 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for his role in a conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise and for using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, in connection with his MS-13 gang activities.
The sentence was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner; Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge James Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Office; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Chief Amal Awad of the Anne Arundel Police Department; Chief Edward Jackson of the Annapolis Police Department; and State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess of the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Office.
“The violence perpetrated by Gomez-Jimenez and his fellow MS-13 members was brutal and tragic and is totally unacceptable. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland and our federal, local and state partners are working together to remove these violent gang members and to keeping our communities safe from the deadly threat of MS-13,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “We continue to work with our counterparts here and abroad to bring to justice these transnational gangs. The 38-year sentence for this defendant should serve as a reminder to the community that we will not relent in our pursuit of justice.”
“Gang-related violence and criminal activity present an ongoing challenge for law enforcement everywhere. HSI’s efforts to dismantle gangs are much more effective in areas where partnership with local law enforcement is strongest,” said James Mancuso, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Baltimore field office. “This significant sentence is the result of the hard work and collaboration between federal and local partners to bring members of MS-13 to account.”
According to his plea agreement and other court documents, from about 2015 through 2017, Gomez-Jimenez was a member and associate of the Hempstead clique of MS-13, and participated in a racketeering conspiracy that included assaults, murder, attempted murder, robbery, and drug trafficking. Specifically, Gomez-Jimenez admitted that he participated in the murder of a suspected rival gang member, and conspired and attempted to murder two victims in Annapolis. In addition, between January 2016 and February 2017, Gomez-Jimenez and other MS-13 members/associates sold marijuana to raise funds for the gang. The drug proceeds were used for, among other purposes, the purchase of more narcotics, weapons, and to send to MS-13 members and associates in other states and in El Salvador.
As part of the racketeering conspiracy, Gomez-Jimenez admitted that on March 11, 2016, he and other MS-13 members and associates planned and agreed to murder Victim 1, whom the gang suspected of being a rival gang member. Co-conspirator 1 and another MS-13 associate lured Victim 1 to Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, Maryland, and once Victim 1 arrived at the park, members of the gang struck Victim-1 in the head with a branch or stick. Gomez-Jimenez, using a knife borrowed from a co-conspirator, along with co-defendants Moises Reyes-Canales, Marlon Cruz-Flores, and other members and associates of MS-13, then stabbed Victim 1 repeatedly, killing him. While Gomez-Jimenez and other members of the gang stabbed Victim 1, Co-conspirator 1 and other MS-13 members/associates stood watch outside of the park to ensure no one entered or left the park, and to watch for police presence, so that the gang could complete the murder of Victim 1. During this time, Co-conspirator 1 communicated by phone and through text messages with Cruz-Flores and Reyes-Canales inside the park, to let them know no one entered the park and they could complete the murder. After Victim 1 was killed, Gomez-Jimenez left the park to stand watch, so that other MS-13 associates could enter the park help bury Victim 1 in a shallow grave inside the park. Law enforcement did not locate Victim 1’s body until August 28, 2017, when it was exhumed by law enforcement.
As detailed in his plea agreement, on October 23, 2016, Gomez-Jimenez along with other members and associates of the MS-13 Hempstead clique in Annapolis, devised a plan to murder Victim 2, an unlicensed taxi driver. Gomez-Jimenez, Reyes-Canales, Cruz-Flores, Manuel Martinez-Aguilar, and other members and associates of MS-13, met at Quiet Waters Park to discuss the plan to murder Victim 2. At the meeting, each member of the conspiracy was assigned a task to complete the murder and dispose of the evidence. The group planned to use machetes, knives, and guns to kill the victim. Cruz-Flores and another Reyes-Canales each had a firearm and all the members of the conspiracy were aware that guns would be used in the murder.
A co-conspirator called Victim 2 using another member’s cell phone to arrange for an unlicensed taxi ride. Victim 2 arrived with another passenger, Victim 3. Cruz-Flores asked Victim 2 to drive to the area of the 700 block of Annapolis Neck Road in Annapolis. When they arrived, Reyes-Canales approached the vehicle and pointed a gun at the victims and Cruz-Flores also produced a gun and pointed it at the victims. Victim 3 attempted to run away and Cruz-Flores shot Victim 3 in the leg, while another MS-13 member repeatedly attacked Victim 3 with a machete. Victim 2 also tried to run. Co-defendant Martinez-Aguilar and another MS-13 member took Victim 2’s vehicle and attempted unsuccessfully to run him over with the car. Co-conspirators chased Victim 2 and Gomez-Jimenez repeatedly stabbed Victim 2 with a knife. The conspirators fled when they heard police sirens. A short time later, police arrested Gomez-Jimenez nearby with Victim 2’s blood on his hands and clothes. A surveillance camera in the area captured Gomez-Jimenez assaulting Victim 2 and the attempt to run over Victim 2 with Victim 2’s vehicle. DNA subsequently confirmed that the blood on Gomez-Jimenez’ hands matched Victim 2’s blood. Both victims were transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center with life threatening injuries. Both victims survived but have permanent injuries as a result of the attack.
Co-defendants Marlon Cruz-Flores, age 25, Reyes-Canales, age 23, and Manuel Martinez-Aguilar, a/k/a “El Lunatic” and “Zomb,” age 21, all of Annapolis, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy and gun charge. Cruz-Flores was sentenced to 38 years in federal prison and Martinez-Aguilar was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison. Sentencing for Reyes-Canales is set for September 17, 2021. Co-defendant David Diaz-Alvarado, age 20, also of Annapolis, pleaded guilty to murder in aid of racketeering in connection with his MS-13 gang activities. A fourth co-defendant, Juan Carlos Sandoval-Rodriguez, age 23, of Annapolis was convicted on October 31, 2019, of murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering after an 11-day jury trial for the murder of Victim 1. All of the defendants remain detained.
MS-13 is a gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, with members operating in the State of Maryland, including Anne Arundel County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Frederick County, and throughout the United States. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13 often work together cooperatively as “Programs,” with the purpose of increasing the gang’s levels of organization, violence, extortion, and other criminal activity, and to assist one another in avoiding detection by law enforcement. In Maryland and the surrounding area, these cliques include Hempstead Locos Salvatruchas (“HLS”), Parkview Locos Salvatrucha (“PVLS”), Normandie Locos Salvatrucha (“NLS” or “Normandie”), Sailors Locos Salvatrucha Westside (“SLSW” or “Sailors”), Langley Park Salvatrucha (“LPS”), Weedoms Locos Salvatrucha (“Weedoms”), and Cabanas Locos Salvatruchas (“Cabanas”). A person within the participating cliques is selected as the Program leader.
To protect the gang and to enhance its reputation, MS-13 members and associates are expected to use any means necessary to force respect from those who show disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence. MS-13’s creed is based on one of its mottos, “Mata, roba, viola, controla,” which translates to, “kill, steal, rape, control.” One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible.
Anyone with information about MS-13 is encouraged to provide their tips to law enforcement. The FBI and Homeland Security Investigations both have nationwide tiplines that you can call to report what you know. You can reach the FBI at 1-866-STP-MS13 (1-866-787-6713), or you can call HSI at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended HSI, the ATF, the Anne Arundel Police Department, the Annapolis Police Department, and the Anne Arundel State’s Attorney Office for their work in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Stendig, and Trial Attorneys Matthew Hoff and Samantha Mildenberg Loiero of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, who are prosecuting the case.
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