An investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. led to the conviction of four Northern Virginia MS-13 gang members on March 17 for drug distribution, racketeering, and their roles in two attempted murders in Prince William County, Virginia, in 2019.
According to court records and evidence presented during a three-week trial, Roberto Cruz Moreno, 22, of Woodbridge, and Marvin Torres, 21, of Manassas, were “chequeos,” which are soldiers, in the Guanacos Lil Cycos (GLCS) clique of MS-13; Kevin Perez Sandoval, 24, of Warrenton, was an “observacion,” which is a lower level soldier in the GLCS clique; and Jose Rosales Juarez, 27, of Manassas, was a “paro,” which is an entry level member of the GLCS clique.
In March 2019, Cruz Moreno picked up three other GLCS gang members and a victim identified as E.P.A. and drove them to an isolated wooded area in Bristow, where one GLCS gang member shot E.P.A. multiple times and another stabbed E.P.A. in the neck. They did this because GLCS gang members believed E.P.A. was disrespecting MS-13 and associating with a rival gang. Following the attempted murder, Cruz Moreno fled the scene with the three other GLCS participants and drove them to his residence. In April 2019, local law enforcement officers in Fairfax County found Cruz Moreno in possession of the same firearm used to shoot E.P.A and several grams of packaged cocaine in his vehicle, along with three other GLCS gang members traveling with him in the vehicle. Cruz Moreno had earlier that day been selling the cocaine on behalf of the clique.
“These convictions mark a significant victory for HSI, but also for law-abiding citizens in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area,” said Special Agent in Charge Ray Villanueva of HSI Washington, D.C. “Not only are four violent criminals off the streets, but we sent a message to members of malicious street gangs that their criminal acts will only end them up in a prison cell.”
In July 2019, Torres identified a victim, known as N.M.S., as a rival gang member in GLCS-controlled territory and provided photographs of N.M.S. to fellow gang members. On August 3 and 4, 2019, Rosales Juarez surveilled N.M.S. at a restaurant in Manassas, and discussed plans to kill N.M.S. with GLCS’ First Word, or leader, Andy Tovar, 32, of White Post. Tovar is considered to be one of the highest-ranking MS-13 members in the United States. On Aug. 12, 2019, Tovar granted permission to conduct the killing of N.M.S. That day, Perez Sandoval drove two members or associates of MS-13 to retrieve a firearm, then back to N.M.S.’s location where they shot him. Perez Sandoval then drove the associates from the scene of the shooting to Rosales Juarez’s residence. Rosales Juarez provided Perez Sandoval a different car to drive and rented a hotel room for the two other GLCS gang members involved in the attempted murder of N.M.S., in order to hinder law enforcement detection of those involved.
Prior to this trial, on February 4, Tovar pleaded guilty to each of the crimes with which he was charged in an indictment, including engaging in conspiracies to murder a victim identified as M.R.G. Tovar authorized GLCS gang members to kill M.R.G., and, on July 3, 2017, GLCS gang members traveled from Prince William County to Charlottesville to murder M.R.G because the GLCS clique believed M.R.G was a rival gang member. Following Tovar’s authorization, four GLCS gang members stabbed M.R.G to death over 140 times using knives and a machete before they dumped the victim’s body in a creek, burned his car, and fled back to Prince William County.
“MS-13 and similar hostile criminal gangs habitually terrify law-abiding citizens with their reckless violence,” Villanueva said. “HSI Washington, D.C. will continue working tirelessly to apprehend lawless offenders while protecting the citizens of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.”
Tovar, Cruz Moreno, and Perez Sandoval each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison. Torres and Rosales Juarez each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Tovar will be sentenced on July 13, and Cruz Moreno, Perez Sandoval, Torres, and Rosales Juarez will be sentenced on August 31. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The convictions were a result of an HSI Washington, D.C.-led investigation in partnership with the United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia; the Federal Bureau of Investigations Washington, D.C. field office Criminal Division; the Albemarle County Police; the Manassas City Police; the Prince William County Police; and the Fairfax County Police.