Defendant Admitted to Shooting and Killing an Individual Believed to Be a Rival Gang Member
A Hyattsville, Maryland, man pleaded guilty today, just before trial, to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, including participating in a murder.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Police Department; Chief Douglas Holland of the Hyattsville Police Department; and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks made the announcement.
Luis Guzman-Ventura, aka Casper, 22, pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus of the District of Maryland to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 4, 2017.
MS-13 is a national and transnational gang with branches or “cliques” operating throughout the United States, including in Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Frederick County, Maryland. In pleading guilty, Guzman-Ventura admitted that he was a member of MS-13 and and associate of the MS-13 Weedons Clique.
According to his plea agreement, from at least 2010 through 2013, Guzman-Ventura conspired with members and associates of MS-13 to engage in crimes to further the interests of the gang, including murder, assault, robbery, extortion by threat of violence, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and witness retaliation.
Specifically, Guzman-Ventura admitted that on Dec. 5, 2012, he was the front-seat passenger in a vehicle being driven by another MS-13 member, Jose Rodriguez-Nunez, and Guzman-Ventura shot at three individuals believed to be rival gang members, killing one and wounding another. After the shooting, Rodriguez-Nunez and Guzman-Ventura fled the scene to avoid being identified, according to their plea agreements.
Rodriguez-Nunez, aka Killer, 27, also of Hyattsville, previously pleaded guilty to being the driver in this drive-by shooting and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 9, 2017. Guzman-Ventura and Rodriguez-Nunez remain detained pending sentencing.
In total, 10 defendants have pleaded guilty and three have been convicted at trial for their roles in the racketeering conspiracy.
HSI Baltimore, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Hyattsville Police Department and the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office investigated the case. The Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office, HSI Baltimore’s Operation Community Shield Task Force and the Maryland Department of Corrections Intelligence Unit provided assistance in the investigation. Trial Attorney Catherine Dick of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and Lindsay Eyler Kaplan are prosecuting this case.