MS-13 leader pleads guilty to attempted murder and extortion racketeering
ALEXANDRIA, Va - A leader of the Gangsters Locos Salvatrucha (GLS) clique of MS-13 pled guilty today to participating in a racketeering organization that attempted to murder two rival gang members and extorted pimps trafficking prostitutes from Maryland into Virginia.
"MS-13 and the violent tactics they use to instill fear throughout our communities will not be tolerated," said John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington, D.C. "As evidenced in today's plea, MS-13 operates as a criminal enterprise using brutal acts to include attempted murder as a means to spread their control in our neighborhoods. ICE HSI appreciates the close working relationship with our local, state and federal partners to combat this significant threat and to dismantle MS-13's attempt to reign control in Northern Virginia."
Jose Anibal Vigil, 21, of Falls Church, Va., pled guilty to a criminal information charging him with being a member of MS-13, a criminal racketeering enterprise. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 6, 2011.
According to the criminal information and the statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Vigil was officially jumped into MS-13 in 2008 and obtained the gang moniker "Silencio." He became a leader of the GLS clique, which was involved in extensive criminal activity, including an attempt on May 27, 2008, to kill two rival gang members outside a youth center in the Culmore area of Fairfax County, Va. Armed with a pick axe, a machete, and a chain, the MS-13 members attacked their rivals yelling, "We are going to kill you," and "La Mara Salvatrucha." The two rival gang members were seriously injured during the attack.
Today, Vigil also admitted that 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, and one of the leaders of the prostitution services stated that he believed the gang would kill him if he did not pay. A portion of the funds collected was sent to MS-13 gang operations in El Salvador.
"Violent gangs spread fear throughout the community," said U.S. Attorney MacBride. "We are determined to work together - as federal, state, and local law enforcement - to put MS-13 out of business in Northern Virginia.
"Today's plea represents the success of another strategic collaboration between the U.S. Attorney's Office, local and federal agencies, and the Office of the Attorney General - and Virginia is safer for it," said Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. "Each gang member has a choice before him - to give away his or her prime years to a jail cell, or to get an education, have a job, a family, and most of all, freedom. Today's plea is a reminder that young people tempted by gang membership are choosing the wrong path. Your gang will not protect you from the law when you commit crimes. We will catch you and we will prosecute you."
"The guilty plea in this case is very welcome news for the people of Fairfax County and the FCPD officers who spent two years on this investigation," said Col. Dave Rohrer, Chief of Fairfax County Police Department. "We appreciate the partnership and support of our federal partners that enabled us to prosecute Vigil, a serious threat to public safety, under very tough federal laws."
This case was investigated by ICE HSI and the Fairfax County Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Marc Birnbaum, on detail from the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, and Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Fahey are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.