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Transnational Gangs

MS-13 gang member sentenced 18 years in prison for racketeering acts including attempted murder, extortion

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Darwin Melgar Escobar, 23, aka "Peligro," was sentenced to 18 years in prison for participating in the affairs of the violent street gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) through a pattern of racketeering activity (RICO), and for possessing a firearm as an illegal alien. This sentence follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

"This sentence demonstrates the resolve of law enforcement to dismantle transnational gangs, like MS-13, as they continue their attempts to exert control in Northern Virginia through violence," said John P. Torres, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Washington, D.C. "In close partnership with our local, state and federal partners, ICE HSI will continue to vigorously pursue MS-13 members and their associated violent criminal activity to make our communities safer."

"Escobar was part of MS-13, the ruthlessly violent street gang which threatened and terrorized Falls Church neighborhoods," said U.S. Attorney MacBride. "He was convicted for the brutal attempted murder of two rival gang members, where he used a pick axe and machete to severely injure his victims. Escobar was also a gun-toting leader of his gang and shook down prostitution rings for extortion money to fund MS-13 gang activities in El Salvador and Northern Virginia. Escobar is the eighth MS-13 GLS clique gang member recently convicted by the U.S. Attorney's Office. This should be a clear message to all gang members: We will not rest until we put you out of business."

On May 6, another MS-13 gang member, Jose Anibal Vigil, 21, aka "Silencio," was sentenced to 20 years in prison for participating in the affairs of MS-13 on RICO charges.

According to court documents, Vigil was a leader of the Gangsters Locotes Salvatruchas (GLS) clique, which was active in Falls Church, Va. On May 27, 2008, Vigil led Melgar Escobar and other MS-13 members in an attempt to kill rival gang members outside a youth center in the Culmore area of Falls Church. The MS-13 members yelled, "We are going to kill you," and "La Mara Salvatrucha," while attacking their rivals with a pick axe, a machete, and a chain. Two rival gang members were seriously injured during the attack.

In 2010, MS-13 members collected "protection money" from at least two prostitution organizations operating in Culmore. In exchange for payments, MS-13 members allowed the prostitution services to operate in the area. One of the leaders of the prostitution services stated that he believed the gang would kill him if he did not pay. MS-13 members sent a potion of this money to fund gang operations in El Salvador.

This case was investigated by ICE HSI and the Fairfax County Police Department.

For more information, visit www.ice.gov.