Takoma Park Police Instrumental in the Arrests of Nine Alleged MS-13 Members Charged in Violent Racketeering Conspiracy AND Weekly Crime Report 3/7/14 - 3/13/14

Gang Members Allegedly Committed Murders, Attempted Murders, Stabbings, Extortion and Witness Tampering

A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging nine defendants in connection with a conspiracy to participate in murder in aid of a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

The Takoma Park Police Department was an integral part of this investigation. One of the facets of this investigation originated within the borders of the City of Takoma Park and was primarily handled by a member of the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) who was working collaboratively with gang units in both Montgomery County and Prince George’s County. The detective was actively working this case for approximately two years. Units from the Takoma Park Police Department’s Special Assignment Team (SAT) and patrol division were also tasked with assisting throughout the investigation in varying capacities. This is an example of a long term investigation which, by its very nature, is confidential and requires a great deal of time to successfully complete. Chief Goldberg is proud of the department’s tenacious and infallible investigation and pursuit of these dangerous alleged MS-13 gang members.

The defendants charged are:

  • Jorge Enrique Moreno-Aguilar, aka “Flaco” and “Castigato,” age 20, of District Heights,  Maryland;
  • Juan Alberto Ortiz-Orellana, aka “Chele” and “Furia,” age 25, of District Heights; 
  • Melvin Marquez-Sanchez, aka “Demente,” age 19, formerly of New York;
  • Carlos Beltran-Flores, aka “Joker,” age 22, of Hyattsville, Maryland;
  • Francisco Hernandez, aka “Chicle,” age 20, of Silver Spring, Maryland;
  • Wilmer Argueta, a/a “Chengo” and “Happy,” age 21, of Hyattsville;
  • Eric Antonio Mejia-Ramos, aka “Flaco,” age 20, of Hyattsville;
  • Minor Perez-Chach, aka “Minor Chach-Perez,” “Little Bad” and “Bryant Sacarias, age 23, of Hyattsville; and
  • Miguel Angel Manjivar, aka “Garra” and “Masflow,” age 21, of Hyattsville.

The superseding indictment was returned on March 7, 2014 and unsealed yesterday upon the arrest of defendant Hernandez.  All of the defendants are in custody. 

The superseding indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief Mark A. Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; Chief Alan Goldberg of the Takoma Park Police Department; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

“Attacking and dismantling violent criminal enterprises like MS-13 is one of HSI’s highest enforcement priorities,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge William Winter. “Our investigation revealed that MS-13 is an enterprise that participates in criminal acts, such as murder, attempted murder, violent assaults, witness intimidation and retaliation, and extortion. HSI special agents will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to target MS-13 members and other transnational criminal street gangs that are a rising public safety threat in our communities.”

MS-13 is a national and international 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 and Montgomery County, Maryland. 

The 12 count indictment alleges that from prior to 2009 to February 2014, the defendants were members and associates of MS-13 who planned and committed murders, attempted murders, assaults and robberies in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.  Gang members also allegedly extorted high school students and brothel operators, committed witness tampering and obstructed justice, among other crimes.

More specifically, the indictment alleges the following murders.  On January 10, 2011, defendant Manjivar and several other MS-13 members repeatedly stabbed two individuals believed to be affiliated with the rival 18th Street Gang, killing one and attempting to kill the other.  On August 28, 2012, defendant Mejia-Ramos and others murdered a woman believed to be a rival gang member, by shooting her in the head.  On February 23, 2013, defendant Perez-Chach and another MS-13 member murdered a person believed to be a former MS-13 member who had testified in federal court against several MS-13 members in a prior federal racketeering prosecution in Maryland, attacking him with a knife and machete. 

From January 2011 to December 2012, Manjivar, Hernandez, Beltran-Flores, Mejia-Ramos and other MS-13 members are alleged to have planned and/or participated in the attempted murder of four individuals believed to be affiliated with rival gangs including the 18th Street Gang, Adelphi Crew, Latin Kings and Lewisdale Crew.  One of these victims was targeted for murder to prevent him from testifying at trial in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County against defendant Argueta. 

Additionally, the indictment alleges that Hernandez, Beltran-Flores, Argueta and other MS-13 members threatened to kill a fellow gang member unless he paid them a weekly or bi-weekly “rent” or “tax,” which gang members collected from the victim from at least March to November, 2011.  Five others are alleged to have been assaulted, including one victim who was stabbed with a butterfly knife.

Moreno-Aguilar, Ortiz-Orellana, Marquez-Sanchez, Beltran-Flores, Mejia-Ramos, Perez-Chach and Manjivar face a maximum sentence of life in prison for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise, and Hernandez and Argueta face 20 years in prison.  Moreno-Aguilar and Ortiz-Orellana also face a maximum sentence of life in prison for murder in aid of racketeering; murder resulting in the use of a gun; and using a firearm during a crime of violence. Beltran-Flores also faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for using a firearm during a crime of violence and 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit witness tampering and for witness tampering by attempted murder.  Defendant Hernandez had his initial appearance in federal court in Greenbelt yesterday. The other defendants are expected to have their initial appearances beginning next week.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. 

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the HSI Baltimore, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County Police Departments, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Takoma Park Police Department and Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein also recognized the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office, HSI Baltimore’s Operation Community Shield Task Force and the Maryland Department of Corrections Intelligence Unit for their assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney William D. Moomau and Kevin L. Rosenberg, a Trial Attorney with the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, who are prosecuting this case.

Weekly Crime Report 3/7/14 – 3/13/14

Arrests

  • 900 block of Merrimac Drive, on Saturday, March 8, at 2:26 am, a male, 27, was arrested for Driving under the Influence (DUI), driving without a license and hit and run (property).
  • 7000 block of Carroll Avenue, on Monday, March 10, at 12:20 pm, three males, one 46 and the other two 47, were arrested for failure to appear for a bench warrant from Montgomery County Police, open container of alcoholic beverage and trespassing.
  • 1300 block of University Blvd, on Monday, March 10 at 7:29 pm, a female, 47, was arrested at the Walgreens for forgery and attempt to fraudulently obtain prescription drugs.
  • 900 block of East West Highway, on Tuesday, March 11 at 2:32 pm, a male, 48, was arrested for disorderly conduct and an outstanding warrant from Montgomery County.
  • 7400 block of New Hampshire Avenue, on Tuesday, March 11, a male, 44, was arrested for 2nd Degree Rape, False Imprisonment and 2nd Degree Assault.

Ward 1

Theft

  • 7500 block of Maple Avenue, on Friday, March 7 at 4:21 pm, officers responded to the basketball court near the city building for a theft of property.

Theft from Auto

  • 7300 block of Birch Avenue, on Friday, March 7 at 4:22 pm, officers responded for a theft from auto.

Ward 2

None

Ward 3

Commercial Burglary

  • 6400 block of New Hampshire Avenue, on Friday, March 7 at 1:38 am, officers responded to RT Automotive for a commercial burglary alarm. Unknown suspect(s) entered the business by causing damage to the bay garage door leaving a hole big enough for someone to fit inside. Property was not taken from the business. Surveillance video showed that at approximately 1:38 am, a silver Buick, older model, displaying Virginia temporary tags, pulled into the lot. The vehicle was missing the front passenger side hubcap. The vehicle pulled into the lot and back into the area where the damage was on the bay garage door. The vehicle left the area traveling southbound on New Hampshire Avenue.
  • 8600 block of Flower Avenue, on Friday, March 7 at 2:38 am, officers responded to Beijing Delight for a commercial burglary alarm. Unknown suspect(s) entered the business by shattering the bottom front glass window located beneath the "open for business" sign. A K9 search of the area for suspect(s) revealed negative results. Property was taken.
  • 7200 block of Carroll Avenue, on Friday, March 7 at 2:45 am, officers responded to RS Automotive for a commercial burglary alarm. Unknown suspect(s) entered the business by shattering the bottom front glass window located beneath the garage door. A K9 search of the area revealed negative results. No property was taken. Surveillance video showed unknown suspects hanging around the outside of the business at approximately 2:00 am. and then left in an unknown direction of travel and then returned. It is believed that the vehicle is the same as the one used in the commercial robbery at RT Automotive (see summary above).

Injured Deer

  • 6600 block of Westmoreland Avenue, on Sunday, March 9 at 9:03 am, officers responded for an injured deer. The deer was in distress and put down.

Ward 4

Theft

  • 7600 block of Maple Avenue, on Monday, March 10 at 6:30 pm, officers responded for a theft from building.

Fraud

7600 block of Piney Branch Road, on Monday, March 11 at 6:31 pm, officers responded for a complaint of fraud.

Ward 5

Strong Arm Robbery

  • 600 block of Houston Avenue, on Tuesday, March 11 at 1:56 pm, officers responded for a strong arm robbery. The victim was walking on Houston Avenue when he was approached by two suspect(s) - a male and female. The male suspect demanded several times to use the victim's cell phone, and victim did not comply. At that time, the female suspect grabbed the victim around his throat and forcibly took property from him. Both suspects fled on foot in an unknown direction last seen on Houston Avenue. The suspects are described as: 1) Black male, brown-skinned, short hair, tattoo of lips on his neck and last seen wearing a red/black/white hat, black sweatpants and black/white/green sneakers. 2) Black female, light-skinned with dreads and last seen wearing a black/white jacket, blue jeans and white/red/black sneakers.

Theft

  • 700 block of Hudson Avenue, on Tuesday, March 11 at 4:51 pm, officers responded for a theft. Two female juveniles stole property from the victim’s purse.

Residential (Garage) Burglary

  • 700 block of Kennebec Avenue, on Wednesday, March 12 at 9:56 am, officers responded for garage burglary. Two bicycles were stolen.

Ward 6

Fraud

  • 7800 block of Lockney Avenue, on Sunday, March 9 at 3:26 pm, officers responded for a complaint of fraud/identity theft.

Assault

  • 7600 block of New Hampshire Avenue, on Monday, March 10 at 12:24 am, officers responded to the Mogotillo restaurant for an assault.

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If you see a crime in progress, contact the Takoma Park Police at 301-270-1100. If you need to report an emergency that involves the need for fire or rescue services, call 9-1-1.