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S District Court Chief Judge James Bredar handed down the more than three-decade sentence after Marlon Cruz-Flores, 24, whose gang nickname is “Little S,” pleaded guilty in September to charges of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise and for using, carrying and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, according to court records.
S District Court Chief Judge James Bredar handed down the more than three-decade sentence after Marlon Cruz-Flores, 24, whose gang nickname is “Little S,” pleaded guilty in September to charges of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise and for using, carrying and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, according to court records. (Anne Arundel County Police / HANDOUT)

A federal judge on Friday sentenced an Annapolis MS-13 member, whose branch of the gang authorities tied to at least two violent attacks, to 38 years in federal prison.

U.S District Court Chief Judge James Bredar handed down the more than three-decade sentence after Marlon Cruz-Flores, 24, whose gang nickname is “Little S,” pleaded guilty in September to charges of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise and for using, carrying and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, according to court records.

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The charges stem from violent attacks around Annapolis carried out during Cruz-Flores’ time with the La Mara Salvatrucha, a transnational gang comprised primarily of immigrants from El Salvador.

Cruz-Flores’ attorney, Joseph Balter, declined to comment.

From about 2015 through 2017, Cruz-Flores, was a member of a branch of the gang — they’re known as “cliques” — called the Hempstead Locos Salvatruchas committed or planned to commit murder, attempted murder, extortion and drug trafficking, among a host of other offenses, according to his plea agreement.

Cruz-Flores’ sentence comes just days after federal law enforcement officials in Maryland became the first in the country to announce a national FBI tip line designated for MS-13 and designed to protect callers identities, as the gang is known to prey on communities of undocumented immigrants.

The gang’s motto translates to “kill, steal, rape, control,” law enforcement officials say, and they have a reputation for committing brutal acts of violence against rival gangs, like the 18th Street gang, and those who are perceived to disrespect their authority.

MS-13 members often refer to each other by their gang monikers and are sometimes identifiable to authorities because of their distinctive tattoos and clothing, authorities say. The gang’s colors are blue, black and white, and members are known to wear sports jerseys with the number “13” or numbers that add up to 13.

Cruz-Flores admitted to participating in the March 11, 2016 murder of a man in Quiet Waters Park. The Hempstead clique lured the man, who they believed to be a rival gang member, into the park, beat and stabbed him repeatedly, according to Cruz-Flores’ plea. When he was dead, they dug a shallow grave in the park and buried him.

His plea states that later that year, Cruz-Flores and his associates convened again at the park, this time to plot the murder of another suspected rival gang member. They planned to use knives, machetes and guns to kill the man and devised a plan to dispose of the evidence when the murder was completed.

At around 10 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2016, Cruz-Flores called the man to arrange a ride — the suspected rival was an unlicensed taxi driver, authorities say. When the driver and his passenger arrived at the meeting point along Annapolis Neck Road, Cruz-Flores and associates ambushed him with handguns, according to his plea agreement.

When one of the men fled, Cruz-Flores shot him in the leg, the plea details. His fellow gang members stabbed and slashed the men with machetes before fleeing at the sound of sirens.

The taxi driver and passenger survived after responders took them to shock trauma, but were permanently scarred, court records show. One man required more than 200 staples; the other lost parts of fingers from the machete strikes.

Court records indicate Cruz-Flores was indicted along with five co-defendants, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office for Maryland.

Annapolis residents Manuel Martinez-Aguilar, 20, known as “El Lunatic” and “Zomb,” and Fermin Gomez-Jimenez, 22, pleaded guilty to racketeering and gun charges, the federal prosecutor’s office said. Martinez-Aguilar was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison.

David Diaz-Alvarado, 20, of Annapolis, pleaded guilty to murder in aid of racketeering, the U.S. Attorneys Office said. A jury found Juan Carlos Sandoval-Rodriguez, 21, who went by “Picaro,” “El Pastor,” or “Gasper” and is also of Annapolis, guilty of the same charge after an 11-day trial.

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The sixth defendant, 21-year-old Moises Alexis Reyes-Canales, or “Sicopata,” of Annapolis, is slated to stand trial over four weeks beginning April 13, court records show.

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