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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
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  3. HSI Baltimore Investigation Lands Maryland MS-13 Member 24 Years in Federal Prison

HSI Baltimore Investigation Lands Maryland MS-13 Member 24 Years in Federal Prison for His Role in Racketeering Conspiracy

Release Date: April 15, 2024

BALTIMORE — An investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore, FBI Baltimore and the Montgomery County Police Department resulted in a 24-year federal prison sentence for a Maryland MS-13 gang member for his role in a racketeering conspiracy.

Jose Lainez-Martinez, 29, a Salvadoran national residing in Silver Spring, received the 24-year prison sentence March 26 after pleading guilty to his participation in a racketeering conspiracy, which included a murder, related to his activities as part of the MS-13 gang. Lainez-Martinez’s prison sentence will be followed by five years of supervised release.

“The acts of Jose Lainez-Martinez and other members of this violent transnational criminal organization led to the tragic loss of a young man’s life,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris. “Hopefully, this prison sentence will deter others who engage in fraud and terror as a way of life.”

According to the investigation, from at least January 2020, Lainez-Martinez was a member or associate of the MS-13 Fulton Locos Salvatruchas clique and agreed with members of MS-13 to conduct and participate in the gang’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity that included murder, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion and drug distribution. Lainez-Martinez admitted that to help the gang to raise money, he sold marijuana and collected extortion money from brothels and other businesses, providing the proceeds to gang leadership.

The investigation revealed that on the night of May 25, 2020, Lainez-Martinez and other MS-13 members gathered in a park in Silver Spring. During that meeting, participants planned to murder someone they suspected of association with a rival gang in retaliation for his previous assault of an MS-13 member. The participants planned their retaliation for the morning of May 26, 2020.

The investigation detailed that, on May 26, 2020, at around 7 a.m., two Fulton Locos Salvatruchas members approached their victim as he left his apartment in Silver Spring, fired handguns at him — hitting him eight times — and killed him.

Following the murder, Lainez-Martinez and his co-conspirator Oscar Efrain Zavala-Urrea traveled to Annapolis where they met a third MS-13 member. Lainez-Martinez and Zavala-Urrea changed their clothes and disposed of the old clothing. They gave the third gang member a backpack containing two firearms for safekeeping. A few days later, Maryland State Police stopped the third gang member with the backpack containing the two firearms.

Last week, Chief Judge James K. Bredar sentenced co-defendant and Salvadoran national Oscar Efrain Zavala-Urrea, 23, of Silver Spring, to 25 years in federal prison for his participation in the racketeering conspiracy.

MS-13 is an international criminal organization composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, with members operating in Maryland, including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Frederick County, and throughout the United States. In Maryland and elsewhere, MS-13 members are organized in “cliques,” smaller groups that operate in a specific city or region. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence, both to maintain membership and discipline within the gang and 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.

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, multiagency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

This case was investigated by HSI Baltimore, FBI Baltimore and the Montgomery County Police Department. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Anyone with information about transnational gang activity is encouraged to provide their tips to law enforcement. You can call the HSI Tip Line at 877-HSI-4-TIP (877-474-4847). The HSI Tip Line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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.

Learn more about HSI Baltimore’s mission to increase public safety in our Maryland communities on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @HSIBaltimore.

Last Updated: 04/22/2024
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