GREENBELT, Md. – Jaime Ernesto Navarette-Mejia, 35, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, including an attempted murder.
According to his plea agreement and court documents, from 2012 through at least 2014, Navarette-Mejia, known as Violento, was a member of the Normandie clique of MS-13. Navarette-Mejia and MS-13 members committed crimes to further the interests of the gang, including murder, assault, robbery, extortion by threat of violence, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and witness retaliation.
Navarette-Mejia admitted that on March 28, 2014, he and another MS-13 member traveled to a restaurant/bar in Laurel, Maryland. Navarette-Mejia and the other MS-13 member had in their possession a .380 caliber handgun that belonged to the Normandie clique. After Navarette-Mejia became involved in an altercation with patrons of the restaurant, he and the other MS-13 member were asked to leave the restaurant. When the patrons involved in the altercation came outside, Navarette-Mejia fired at least five shots at them using the handgun. One of the shots struck a victim in the foot, causing serious injury.
A firearms examiner determined that the .380 caliber handgun that fired the shell casings recovered at the restaurant was the same firearm that fired shell casings found at other crime scenes including a murder that occurred on February 28, 2013, an attempted murder that occurred on July 30, 2014, in Hyattsville, Maryland, and a murder that occurred on November 30, 2013 in Frederick, Maryland. These crimes were committed by co-conspirators of Navarette-Mejia.
Navarette-Mejia faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the racketeering conspiracy because it included an attempted murder. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for October 28, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.
MS-13 is a transnational criminal gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Frederick County Maryland. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership and discipline within the organization. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible.
The investigation was led by Homeland Security Investigations special agents out of Baltimore and was conducted under the auspices of Operation Community Shield with support from the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, the Hyattsville City Police Department, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, and the Frederick City Police Department.