Three MS-13 gang members sentenced to federal prison time for involvement in June 2017 murder in Crownsville

Prosecutors said two local MS-13 gang members were sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to racketeering charges. A third member was sentenced to 10 years for conspiracy to murder.

Francisco Ramirez-Pena, also known as “Tepo” and “Advertencia,” 25, of Edgewater, and Edwin Ruiz-Urrutia, nicknamed “Sylvestre,” 21, of Silver Spring, were sentenced to 25 years each by U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar. The two will also have five years of supervised release. Prosecutors said the men pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges related to their participation in a violent gang that is responsible for a murder, extortion and drug trafficking.


Prosecutors said Darvin Guerra-Zacarias, nicknamed “Chapin,” 27, of Silver Spring, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, with three years of supervised release, for his involvement with the murder.

Attorney representing Ruiz-Urrutia and Guerra-Zacarias declined to comment. An attorney for Ramirez-Pena did not return calls for comment.


The murder of a woman, who authorities referred to as “Victim 18,” was intended to maintain and increase the status of MS-13 and its members, prosecutors said.

Police have previously identified the woman as Jennifer Rivera-Lopez, a 21-year-old Annapolis woman who was found buried in a secret grave in a Crownsville park in September 2017.

“These sentences show that a membership in MS-13 usually ends where it should — behind bars for decades in a federal prison,” said Jennifer Boone, special agent in charge of the Baltimore Division of the FBI. “At the FBI, we are committed to staying in the fight until this plague is purged from our communities.”

In June 2017 Ramirez-Pena and Ruiz-Urrutia were talking about how to lure Rivera-Lopez, an associate of the rival 18th Street gang, to murder her, authorities said.

Brenda Argueta, 20, of Silver Spring, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise last year and admitted in her plea agreement she’d reached out to Rivera-Lopez on social media to arrange a date.

Guerra-Zacarias was also there during the conversations, prosecutors said.

Guerra-Zacarias picked up MS-13 gang members, prosecutors said, and had a female associate of the gang help lure the victim out.

The victim then entered Guerra-Zacarias’ car, and he drove the group to a secluded area in Crownsville. Guerra-Zacarias dropped the victim off with other gang members, prosecutors said, and left with the female associate.

Rivera-Lopez started screaming, authorities said, and gang members choked her to try to subdue her. Ramirez-Pena and Ruiz-Urrutia, along with other members, then dragged her to a grave they dug.

Authorities said the gang members then attacked her with a machete and knives until she was dead.

Three months later, investigators said, they found Rivera-Lopez’s body dismembered and buried in the grave. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide with blunt and sharp force traumas.

Plea agreements for Ramirez-Pena and Ruiz-Urrutia said they also conspired to distribute marijuana.


Gang members obtained bulk quantities of marijuana and then broke it up for distribution, the plea agreement said. The distribution was at least 5 kilograms, prosecutors said, and a portion of it was sold to help further the gang’s objective.

A transnational gang with roots in El Salvador, MS-13 has been a presence in the country since the 1980s, but authorities say the gang has stepped up its activities in America in recent years to support its activities in El Salvador.

While authorities say the gang has largely been based around the Washington, D.C., suburbs in Anne Arundel, Prince George’s, Montgomery and Frederick counties, several Baltimore County residents are charged with murdering a 21-year-old who’d flashed rival gang signs.

From at least January 2017, Ramirez-Pena, Ruiz-Urrutia and Guerra-Zacarias were members and associates of the Fulton Locotes Salvatrucha clique of MS-13.

Baltimore Sun reporter Phil Davis contributed to this article.

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