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November 15, 2023Greenbelt, MD, United StatesOrganized Crime

HSI Baltimore investigation into Maryland MS-13 gang members leads to federal prison sentences for murder conspiracy

GREENBELT, Md. — An investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore, FBI Baltimore and Prince George’s County Police Department (PGCPD) resulted in two members of the notorious MS-13 criminal gang in federal prison for their part in a murder conspiracy. Endy Arturo Gaitan Campos, 30, of Hyattsville, Maryland, received a 10-year federal prison sentence, followed by three years of supervised release on Nov. 8 for conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering. Jorge Isaac Argueta-Chica, 23, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, received a six-year federal prison sentence followed by three years of supervised release a week earlier for the same charge.

Both Campos and Argueta-Chica are members of the Weedams Locos Salvatrucha (WLS) clique of the MS-13 gang, which operated primarily in Adelphi, Maryland.

“These two individuals represented a significant threat to the residents of Maryland,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris. “Not only were they members of a vicious criminal enterprise, but they displayed a willingness to commit violence in furtherance of that enterprise. HSI Baltimore, and our partners, stand united in ensuring that those who engage in violence and intimidation will face the full force of the law, sending a clear message that these acts will never be tolerated.”

According to the investigation, Campos, and other WLS members, including Franklyn Sanchez and WLS leader Brayan Torres were gathered at a park in Prince George’s County, Maryland on Aug. 8, 2020, where they agreed to murder someone suspected of cooperating with law enforcement and to whom Sanchez owed a debt.

Campos told another MS-13 member that he would have to help commit the murder. Campos then drove Torres, Sanchez and other WLS members to a wooded area nearby and dropped them off. Sanchez was armed with a revolver and Torres handed a second revolver to another MS-13 member, instructing that person to shoot first when their victim arrived.

Upon the victim’s arrival, Sanchez and the other MS-13 member fired multiple shots at the victim, who fell to the ground. Sanchez then pistol-whipped and stabbed the victim and Torres also stabbed him. Torres and other WLS members dragged the victim’s body to a stream and left it there.

One of the MS-13 members at the scene of the murder placed the two guns and several other items into a dark bag and Campos drove the MS-13 member back to Torres’s house where other gang members, including Argueta-Chica, were waiting.

The investigation revealed that as Sanchez was leaving the woods, he noticed that he was bleeding and became concerned that he may have left his DNA on the victim’s body. To prevent the discovery of DNA or other evidence and to hinder the investigation and prosecution of the murder, Torres called other WLS members, including co-defendant Agustino Eugenio Rivas-Rodriguez, and ordered them to bring shovels to dig a hole and bury the victim’s body.

Campos backed his car into the driveway of Torres’s house and parked in front of the garage. WLS members loaded shovels into Campos’s car and Campos drove Rivas Rodriguez and other WLS members to the wooded area. WLS members, including Argueta-Chica then dug a hole and buried the body. Law enforcement later recovered the body with a bullet wound to the head.

Argueta-Chica also participated in the collection of extortion payments, or “rents,” from at least two extortion victims on behalf of WLS, knowing that the victims making extortion payments did so under the threat of death or bodily injury by members of WLS.

Co-defendants Torres, 29, and Sanchez, 26, both of Adelphi, Maryland, were each sentenced to 28 years in federal prison and Rivas-Rodriguez, 25, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was sentenced 16 years in federal prison for their roles in the racketeering conspiracy.

La Mara Salvatrucha gang, also known as “MS-13,” is an international criminal organization composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, with members operating throughout the United States. MS-13 members are organized in “cliques,” or smaller groups that operate in a specific city or region and are required to commit acts of violence, both to maintain membership and discipline within the gang and against rivals. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible. MS-13 members earn promotions and improved standing within the gang for participating in attacks on rival gang members, often at the direction of MS-13 leadership.

HSI Baltimore encourages anyone with information about MS-13 to provide their tips to law enforcement using the HSI Tip Line at 1-866-347-2423. The HSI Tip Line is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week and callers can remain completely anonymous.

This investigation was conducted by HSI Baltimore, the FBI Baltimore and PGCPD with significant assistance from the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland and the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities; supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place; setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities; and measuring the results.

This case is also 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 multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 11/15/2023