Skip to main content

An official website of the United States government

May 23, 2018Boston, MA, United StatesTransnational Gangs

MS-13 member nicknamed "Animal" sentenced to 40 years in murder, RICO probe

BOSTON – An MS-13 member known by the street name “Animal” was sentenced to 40 years in prison following a multiagency probe, which included U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Joel “Animal” Martinez, was sentenced for racketeering conspiracy involving the murder of a 15-year-old boy in East Boston as a result of the HSI Boston investigation.

Martinez, 23, a citizen and national of El Salvador who formerly lived in East Boston was sentenced to 40 years in prison and two years of supervised release. Martinez will be subject to deportation upon completion of his sentence. In December 2017, Martinez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy. The case was prosecuted by the Office of United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling

Martinez admitted that on Sept. 20, 2015, he murdered a 15-year-old boy on Trenton Street in East Boston. During recorded conversations between the gang member and a cooperating witness, Martinez acknowledged being a member of MS-13 and admitted that he stabbed the victim to death. Specifically, Martinez said, “I stabbed the culero three times,” and stated, “He stared at me and he asked me if I was going to, if I was going to stab him. I told him, ‘Yes, the Mara (Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13) rules you.’”

After the murder, Martinez was “jumped in” and made a “homeboy,” or full member of MS-13’s Eastside Loco Salvatrucha (ESLS) clique during a ceremony that was surreptitiously recorded by agents. When a prospective member is “jumped in,” members of the MS-13 clique beat the new member with their hands and feet while one of the leaders of the clique counts aloud slowly to thirteen.

“Joel “Animal” Martinez was properly brought to justice with this sentence of 40 years in prison,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. “HSI’s focus on public safety in concert with our federal, state, and local partners will hopefully allow the community of East Boston to rest a little easier today knowing Martinez is now off the streets.”

In addition to the critical investigative work done by HSI Boston, other federal and state law enforcement involved in the probe included the FBI’s Boston Field Division, which led the case; the Massachusetts State Police; the Massachusetts Department of Corrections; the offices of Essex County Sheriff, Suffolk County Sheriff, Suffolk County District Attorney, Middlesex County District Attorney , Essex County District Attorney, as well as the Boston, Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, Revere and Somerville, Massachusetts Police Departments. The case was prosecuted by the Office of United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew E. Lelling.

Updated: 10/16/2018