Two dozen members of the MS-13 gang have been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to participate in racketeering related to murders, kidnapping, extortion and money laundering that the gang carried out from 2015 until 2017, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
The defendants are accused of murdering five people in Anne Arundel, Frederick and Montgomery counties. Three of the victims were dismembered.
An indictment in U.S. District Court in Baltimore that was unsealed Friday detailed how gang members allegedly murdered more than a dozen people from 2015 to 2017 and extorted people for money to finance the gang’s activities.
“MS-13 is one of the most violent and ruthless gangs on the streets today,” Robert K. Hur, U.S. Attorney for Maryland, said in a statement.
He said federal and local law enforcement are “determined to dismantle this organization to make our communities in Maryland safer.”
MS-13, also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, is a gang composed primarily of immigrants and descendants of immigrants from El Salvador. The gang operates across the country, including in Maryland, according to federal prosecutors.
Most of the killings happened in Frederick and Montgomery counties, but one involved an Annapolis woman.
Gang members are accused of kidnapping 21-year-old Jennifer B. Rivera-Lopez in June 2017 and taking her to Crownsville, where they strangled her, dismembered her with machetes and buried her in a shallow grave. Her body was found two months later.
Several people have been charged in her death.
The gang members also are alleged to have sold marijuana to raise money to buy more marijuana and weapons for the gang, and to send to gang members in Maryland and other states, as well as El Salvador.
The gang also extorted money from people “by threatening and using force, violence and fear,” the indictment alleges.
Those charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise include: Jorge Raul Guerra Castillo, 36; Carlos Hernandez Diaz, 25; Milton Portillo Rodriguez, 23; Juan Carlos Sandoval Rodriguez, 19; Francisco Ramirez Pena, 24; Jose Alberto Sibrian Garcia, 26; Darwin Arias Mejia, 25; Miguel Lopez Abrego, 30; Albaro Rosa Moreno, 23; Ervin Arrue Figureoa, 19; Ronald Mendez Sosa, 20; Edwin Ruiz Urrutia, 19; Brenda Argueta Argueta, aka “Prima,” 19; Carlos Ventura Morales, 30; and Danny Hernandez Solorzano, 20.
The names of six others who have been charged in the racketeering conspiracy have been sealed in court records.
Eleven of those charged also were charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering: Guerra Castillo, Hernandez Diaz, Portillo Rodriguez, Sandoval Rodriguez, Ramirez Pena, Arias Mejia, Rosa Moreno, Arrue Figueroa, Mendez Sosa, Ruiz Urrutia and Argueta Argueta. Also charged with conspiracy to commit murder were Darvin Zacarias, 26, and Luis Fernando Cruz Rodriguez, 21.
Samuel Diaz-Ramos, 32, was charged with money laundering conspiracy.