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Transnational Gangs

2 men associated with MS-13 gang indicted on charges related to brothel robbery

GREENBELT, Md. — A federal grand jury in the District of Maryland returned a third superseding indictment charging two Maryland men with conspiracy and the violent robbery of a Hyattsville brothel that allegedly resulted in a rape and murder. The indictment follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Prince George's County Police Department.

Ramon Miguel Cerros-Cruz, 23, of Silver Spring, and Alexsi Lopez, 25, of Hyattsville, face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy and robbery charges. Cerros-Cruz was previously charged with these crimes. The third superseding indictment returned July 15 added Alexsi Lopez as a defendant in the case.

According to the indictment, Cerros-Cruz and Lopez knew each other through their association with the MS-13 gang. The two-count indictment alleges that Cerros-Cruz and Lopez familiarized themselves with the location and operation of brothels in the Hyattsville-Langley Park area of Prince George's County. Cerros-Cruz and Lopez allegedly planned the robbery of a Hyattsville brothel apartment, armed with knives, and using force and violence. The indictment charges that Feb. 28, 2007, Cerros-Cruz and Lopez entered the brothel apartment, demanded money from persons within the brothel and searched the apartment for money and items of value. During the robbery, Cerros-Cruz and Lopez allegedly bound one of the employees, raped another employee and murdered a third person who arrived at the brothel during the commission of the rape and robbery and resisted the demands of the defendants.

This investigation was part of HSI's Operation Community Shield initiative. Operation Community Shield partners with existing federal, state and local anti-gang efforts to identify violent street gangs and develop intelligence on gang members and associates, gang criminal activities and international movements to arrest, prosecute, imprison and/or deport transnational gang members. HSI's National Gang Unit deters, disrupts and dismantles gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.

Since the inception of Operation Community Shield in February 2005, HSI special agents working in conjunction with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies nationwide have arrested more than 30,672 street gang members and associates linked to more than 2,300 different gangs. At least 40 percent of those arrested had a violent criminal history. More than 394 of those arrested were gang leaders, and more than 4,265 were MS-13 gang members or associates. Through this initiative, HSI has seized more than 4,597 firearms nationally.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and Steven E. Swane.