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Transnational Gangs

MS-13 leader convicted of multiple racketeering offenses for role in murder and stabbing

RICHMOND, Va. – A Richmond man was convicted yesterday by a federal jury on murder and maiming in aid of racketeering, among other charges, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington office, FBI Richmond field office and the Richmond Police Department. 

Jose Armando Bran, aka "Pantro," 30, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 15.

"MS-13 is a violent transnational gang that poses a significant threat to public safety," said HSI Washington, D.C., Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres. "The verdict holds Jose Bran accountable for his role in the crimes of murder and attempted murder in the Richmond area. HSI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners in combating dangerous criminal organizations. "

Bran was indicted and charged with racketeering and firearms offenses including two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, maiming, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death.  He was responsible for orchestrating a gangland style execution of victim Osbin Hernandez-Gonzalez.

Bran, who served as the leader of MS-13’s Sailors Locos Salvatrucha clique suspected that Hernandez-Gonzalez had violated MS-13 rules by aiding a rival gang. Based upon this suspicion, Bran created a ruse to lure Hernandez-Gonzalez to the "Pony Pasture" area on the banks of the James River.

Bran ordered that MS-13 associate Karen San Jose contact Hernandez-Gonzalez and convinced him to gather with other MS-13 members and enlisted the help of two juveniles who were tasked with actually carrying out the murder of Hernandez-Gonzalez.

To ensure the murder was carried out, Bran instructed MS-13 member Michael Arevalo, aka "Reptile," to accompany the juveniles on the "mission" and to ensure the juveniles completed the murder, which Arevalo did.

San Jose and Arevalo previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the murder. Arevalo is scheduled to be sentenced July 25 and San Jose’s sentencing hearing has not been set. Arevalo faces a maximum of life imprisonment and San Jose faces a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment.

Bran was also told that an individual with the initials F.A. was supplying information about the Richmond Sailors Set to a rival gang. Bran also came to suspect the loyalty of MS-13 associate Justin Amador. A plan was developed to have Justin Amador kill F.A. to punish the supposed-informant and thereby also test Amador’s loyalty.

In January last year Bran directed that the plan be carried out. Giovanny Torres, along with Amador, Mario Molina, and Marvin De Leon, drove the victim to a nightclub in Richmond. They left after 45 minutes, telling the victim that they were all going to go commit a burglary. They drove to the vicinity of the 3800 block of Terminal Avenue in Richmond. After they arrived, the victim, De Leon and Amador got out of the car. After a signal from Torres, De Leon grabbed the victim, pulled the victim’s sweatshirt over his head and held him while Amador stabbed the victim at least 14 times. The victim escaped and fled to a nearby residence while the others drove away. The victim lost a portion of one lung as a result of the attack.

De Leon, Molina, Amador and Torres previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the stabbing. Molina was sentenced to 293 months’ imprisonment. Torres was sentenced to 235 months’ imprisonment. De Leon and Amador’s sentencing hearings have not been set.