Baltimore, Maryland – On March 6, 2023 a U.S. District Judge sentenced Jose Domingo Ordonez-Zometa, AKA “Felon,” age 33, of Landover Hills, Maryland, to life in federal 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 connected to his participation in La Mara Salvatrucha, a transnational criminal enterprise also known as MS-13. Ordonez-Zometa was convicted on December 16, 2022, after a two-week trial, along with co-defendants Jose Rafael Ortega-Ayala, AKA Impaciente,” age 30, of Greenbelt, Maryland; and Jose Henry Hernandez-Garcia, AKA “Paciente,” age 29, of Annandale, Virginia.
MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, is a national and international gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador and other central American countries. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, operate throughout the United States, including in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Ordonez-Zometa and his co-defendants were members and associates of the Los Ghettos Criminales Salvatruchas otherwise known as LGCS or Ghettos a clique of MS-13.
The evidence at trial established that between August 2018 and April 2019, Ordonez-Zometa and his co-defendants participated in the MS-13 criminal enterprise by engaging in acts of violence, including murder, the destruction of evidence, and witness tampering, among other crimes. The criminal acts were committed by gang members to increase MS-13’s power in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including Maryland and Virginia.
As detailed during the trial about a homicide that occurred, Ordonez-Zometa was the leader of the LGCS clique. Ordonez-Zometa called a meeting of the LGCS clique at his house on March 8, 2019, to discuss clique matters, including recent contacts that an LGCS clique member had with the police. Ordonez-Zometa, the homicide victim, the co-defendants, and other MS-13 members participated in the meeting, during which Ordonez-Zometa questioned the homicide victim about alleged cooperation with police.
During the questioning, Ordonez-Zometa, his co-defendants and at least one other MS-13 member assaulted the victim, based on their incorrect suspicions that the victim was cooperating with law enforcement. They also assaulted another MS-13 member who attempted to defend victim. The assault continued until Ordonez-Zometa, as LGCS clique leader, ordered that the victim be killed. Ortega-Ayala, Hernandez-Garcia and other MS-13 members then stabbed the individual in Ordonez-Zometa’s basement resulting in the victims death. 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 the body of the victim to a secluded location in Stafford County, Virginia, and set the victim’s 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 the victim.
Ortega-Ayala and Hernandez-Garcia also face a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Their sentencing dates have not been set.
As part of the conspiracy, members of MS-13 were expected to protect the name, reputation, and status of the gang from rival gang members and other persons, using any means necessary to force respect from those who showed disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, often referred to as “chavalas,” whenever possible. Participation in criminal activity by a member, particularly in violent acts directed at rival gangs or as directed by gang leadership, increases the respect accorded to that member, resulting in that member maintaining or increasing his position in the gang, and opens the door to promotion to a leadership position.
Anyone with information about MS-13 is encouraged to provide their tips to law enforcement. The FBI and Homeland Security Investigations both have nationwide tiplines that you can call to report what you know. You can reach the FBI at 1-866-STP-MS13 (1-866-787-6713), or you can call HSI at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
Information used in this post was obtained via open sources.