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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Maryland MS-13 Gang Member Sentenced to Life in Prison for Racketeering Conspiracy, Including Murder

A Maryland man was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for racketeering and murder in aid of racketeering conspiracies, for committing murder in aid of racketeering, and for conspiracy to destroy and conceal evidence in connection with his participation in La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a transnational criminal enterprise.

According to court documents, on March 8, 2019, Jose Rafael Ortega-Ayala, aka Impaciente, 30, of Greenbelt, along with Jose Henry Hernandez-Garcia, Victim 1, and other MS-13 members, participated in a Los Ghettos Criminales Salvatruchas (LGCS) clique meeting, where gang matters – including recent contacts that Victim 1 had with the police – were discussed. During the meeting, Jose Domingo Ordonez-Zometa, the leader of LGCS, questioned Victim 1 about his/her cooperation with police. During the questioning, Ortega-Ayala and at least one other MS-13 member assaulted Victim 1, based on their incorrect suspicions that Victim 1 was cooperating with law enforcement. They also assaulted another MS-13 member who attempted to defend Victim 1. The assault culminated with Ordonez-Zometa, as LGCS clique leader, ordering that Victim 1 be killed. Ortega-Ayala, Hernandez-Garcia, and other MS-13 members then stabbed and murdered Victim 1 in Ordonez-Zometa’s basement.

After the murder, Ordonez-Zometa ordered Ortega-Ayala, Hernandez-Garcia, and other LGCS clique members and co-conspirators, to conceal and destroy evidence of the murder. Ortega-Ayala and other MS-13 members transported Victim 1’s body to a secluded location in Stafford County, Virginia, set the body on fire, then destroyed and concealed evidence of the murder from the vehicle used to transport the victim. Meanwhile, Ordonez-Zometa, Hernandez-Garcia, and another MS-13 member stayed at the crime scene and attempted to remove, destroy, and conceal evidence of the murder, including the blood of Victim 1. 

On March 6, Ordonez-Zometa was sentenced to life in prison. On Aug. 4, Hernandez-Garcia was also sentenced to life in prison.  

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland, and Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and state and local law enforcement partners investigated the case. Trial Attorneys Jared Engelking and Matthew Hoff of the Criminal Division’s Violent Crime and Racketeering Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Morgan for the District of Maryland prosecuted the case.

Read more at the Justice Department

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