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Friday, May 19, 2023

MS-13 Gang Member Sentenced for Racketeering Conspiracy and Murders

A Maryland man was sentenced today to 28 years in prison for his part in a racketeering conspiracy, including two murders, related to his participation in La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

According to court documents, from at least August 2018 through July 2021, Franklyn Edgardo Sanchez, aka Freddy, aka Magic, aka Miclo, aka Delinquente, 25, of Adelphi, was a member of MS-13, a transnational criminal enterprise and one of the largest street gangs in the United States that is composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador and other central American countries. Sanchez was a member and associate of Weedams Locos Salvatrucha (WLS), an MS-13 clique operating primarily in Adelphi.

As part of the conspiracy, MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership and discipline within the gang as well as against rival gangs.

One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible. Participation in criminal activity by a member, particularly in violent acts directed at rival gangs or as directed by gang leadership, increases the respect accorded to that member, resulting in that member maintaining or increasing his position in the gang and opens the door to promotion to a leadership position.

On Feb. 23, 2020, at the direction of an MS-13 leader, Sanchez and co-defendant Hernan Yanes-Rivera, aka Recio, shot and killed a former WLS member (Victim-1), in retaliation for the victim’s suspected cooperation with law enforcement. As a result of his participation in the murder, Sanchez was promoted within the hierarchy of MS-13.

On Aug. 8, 2020, Sanchez and several WLS members agreed to murder another individual (described in the indictment as Victim 4), who was suspected of cooperating with law enforcement and to whom Sanchez owed a debt.

After driving to a wooded area in Prince George’s County, Maryland, WLS leader Brayan Alexander Torres, aka Spooky, called Victim 4 and told him to come to the wooded area to participate in a disciplinary beating of Sanchez, even though the gang intended to murder Victim 4. When Victim 4 arrived, Sanchez and another MS-13 member shot Victim 4. Sanchez then stabbed Victim 4 with a knife.

To prevent the discovery of DNA or other evidence and to hinder the investigation and prosecution of Victim 4’s murder, Torres called other WLS members, including Agustino Eugenio Rivas Rodriguez, aka Terrible, and ordered them to bring shovels to the wooded area, where they dug a hole and buried Victim 4’s body.

Sanchez also participated in money laundering by transferring gang funds to MS-13 members and associates in El Salvador.

Sanchez, Torres, Yanes-Rivera, and Rivas Rodriguez all previously pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy. By the terms of their plea agreements, Torres faces 28 years in prison, Yanes-Rivera faces 22 years in prison, and Rivas Rodriguez faces 16 years in prison. Torres is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 31, Yanes-Rivera is scheduled to be sentenced on July 28, and Rivas Rodriguez is scheduled to be sentenced on July 21.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI Baltimore Field Office, Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Field Office, and Chief Malik Aziz of the Prince George’s County Police Department made the announcement.

The FBI, HSI, and Prince George’s County Police Department investigated the case, with assistance from the Montgomery County Police Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Trial Attorneys Brendan Woods and Christopher Taylor of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Crespo for the District of Maryland prosecuted the case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. PSN, an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime, is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.

Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent 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 case is also 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.