Drug Enforcement Administration

Washington, DC

Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge

September 09, 2019

Contact: Public Information Officer

Phone Number: (202) 305-8426

Founder and leader of MS-13 clique trafficking guns, arming gang members, trafficking cocaine, and coordinating violence in DC suburbs, sentenced

Gang member brought guns from Florida, distributed them to MS-13 members in Maryland, participated in shootings; sold drugs in communities, charged with attempted murder and racketeering.

GREENBELT, Md. – Today, Jose Augustin Salmeron-Larios (a/k/a Joseph Morales-Martinez, Angel Salvador Gutierrez, Yankee, and Kean), age 26, of Severn, Md., was sentenced to 260 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for a conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13; attempted murder in aid of racketeering; and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

The sentence was announced by Special Agent in Charge Jesse Fong, of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Washington Division; Special Agent in Charge John Eisert of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Acting Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha N. Braveboy; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

MS-13 is a gang with members operating in the state of Maryland, including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Frederick County, and throughout the United States.  Branches or “cliques” of MS-13 often work together cooperatively to engage in criminal activity and to assist one another in avoiding detection by law enforcement.  In Maryland and the surrounding area, these cliques include Parkview Locos Salvatrucha (“PVLS”), Normandie Locos Salvatrucha (“NLS” or “Normandie”), Sailors Locos Salvatrucha Westside (“SLSW” or “Sailors”), Langley Park Salvatrucha (“LPS”), Weedoms Locos Salvatrucha (“Weedoms”), and Cabanas Locos Salvatruchas (“Cabanas”).  MS-13 cliques often combine and work together as “Programs,” with the purpose of increasing the gang’s levels of organization, violence, extortion, and other criminal activity.  A person within the participating cliques is selected as the Program leader.

To protect the gang and to enhance its reputation, MS-13 members and associates are expected to use any means necessary to force respect from those who show disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence.  MS-13’s creed is based on one of its mottos, “Mata, roba, viola, controla,” which translates to, “kill, steal, rape, control.”

According to his plea agreement, from at least January 2015 through September 2016, Salmeron-Larios was a member of the PVLS clique and served as the MS-13 Maryland Program Leader.  Salmeron-Larios admitted to participating in numerous acts in furtherance of the racketeering conspiracy.

For example, in April 2015, Salmeron-Larios and other MS-13 members and associates traveled to New York, met with MS-13 members there and discussed MS-13 business.  Salmeron-Larios admitted that on Nov. 7, 2015, he and other MS-13 members and associates traveled to Hyattsville, Md., intending to murder Victim 1, who was believed to be a member of the 18th Street Gang.  Two MS-13 co-conspirators lured Victim 1 to a location in Hyattsville.  Salmeron-Larios and two MS-13 co-conspirators, all armed with firearms, went to the meeting location. 

Salmeron-Larios and the armed MS-13 co-conspirators got out of the car while another MS-13 accomplice waited in the vehicle.  The victim arrived in a car driven by another person and one of Salmeron-Larios’s MS-13 co-conspirators fired his handgun into the vehicle, attempting to kill Victim 1, who was struck in the face by one of the gunshots.  Salmeron-Larios and his accomplices returned to their vehicle and left the area.  The guns used during this crime, including the gun possessed by Salmeron-Larios, were taken to the residence of the co-conspirator who shot Victim 1.  Victim 1 survived the shooting, but lost an eye, sustained loss of hand and leg function, and was permanently disfigured as a result of the shooting.  Salmeron-Larios participated in the shooting in order to gain entrance to, maintain, and increase his position in MS-13.

Salmeron-Larios admitted that in January 2016, he traveled to Florida and obtained firearms, which were distributed to MS-13 members for use in Maryland.  In addition, during the time of the conspiracy, Salmeron-Larios possessed and distributed controlled substances, including cocaine, for the benefit of MS-13.  Finally, on June 8 and June 9, 2016, Salmeron-Larios discussed an attack upon suspected rival gang members with other MS-13 members.  During several conversations, Salmeron-Larios discussed providing a firearm to a member of the Sailors Clique to be used against rival gang members in the area of 23rd Avenue in Langley Park “by the towers.” Salmeron-Larios instructed one individual where to find the gun and that it was loaded, and instructed another MS-13 member to loan a gun to a member of the Sailors Clique.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. 

Special Agent in Charge, Jesse R. Fong, of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Washington Field Division commends HSI Baltimore, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. SAC Fong would also like to recognize the Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Departments of Corrections, HSI Baltimore’s Operation Community Shield Task Force, and the Maryland Department of Corrections Intelligence Unit for their assistance. SAC Fong thanks United States Attorney Robert K. Hur, along with Assistant United States Attorneys William D. Moomau, Catherine K. Dick, and Burden H. Walker, who prosecuted this case.


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