Greenbelt, Maryland – Hernan Yanes-Rivera, AKA “Recio,” age 22, of Adelphi, Maryland, and Agustin Eugenio Rivas Rodriguez, AKA “Terrible,” age 25, of Silver Spring, Maryland, pleaded guilty on March 14, 2023 to their participation in a racketeering conspiracy, including murder, related to their activities as part of the MS-13 gang. The government and the defendants have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea, Yanes-Rivera will be sentenced to 22 years in federal prison and Rivas Rodriguez will be sentenced to 16 years in federal prison. A U.S. District Judge has scheduled sentencing for Rivas-Rodriguez and Yanes-Rivera on July 21, 2023 and July 28, 2023, respectively. Franklyn Edgardo Sanchez, AKA “Delinquente,” age 26, of Adelphi, Maryland, pleaded guilty to the same charges on March 7, 2023. A Judge has scheduled that sentencing for Sanchez on May 19, 2023.
As detailed in the plea agreement, from at least August 2018 through July 2021, Rivas Rodriguez and Yanes-Rivera were members and associates of Weedams Locos Salvatrucha, or “WLS”, an MS-13 clique operating primarily in Adelphi, Maryland. Rivas Rodriguez was the clique’s second in command.
On February 23, 2020, at the direction of Rivas Rodriquez and another MS-13 leader, Yanes-Rivera and co-defendant MS-13 member Franklyn Sanchez, shot and killed a former WLS member. According to the plea agreement, the victim of the homicide sat for interviews with local police following a robbery he committed with a fellow WLS member. The victims co-defendant pleaded guilty prior to the murder. In the weeks prior to the murder, the victim had been in touch with WLS members over social media, text messages and voice calls. Records show that WLS members told the victim that if he met with gang members to make amends, his cooperation would be forgiven. The homicide victim was instructed to wait on the side of a road at a location in or near Adelphi, Maryland, on February 23, 2020. A junior WLS member drove Yanes-Rivera and Sanchez to the location, where they picked him up. They drove to a location in or near Hyattsville, Maryland. Yanes-Rivera, Sanchez and the victim got out of the car and walked into a wooded area, where Yanes-Rivera and Sanchez shot him. As a result of his participation in the murder, Yanes-Rivera was promoted within the hierarchy of MS-13.
On August 8, 2020, WLS members, including Franklyn Sanchez, were gathered at a park in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Sanchez and several of the WLS members agreed to the murder of a victim, who was suspected of cooperating with law enforcement and to whom Sanchez owed a debt. Sanchez and another MS-13 member murdered the victim, then WLS members dragged his body to a stream and left it there. As he was leaving the woods, Sanchez was concerned that his DNA may have been left on the body. To prevent the discovery of DNA or other evidence and to hinder the investigation and prosecution of the murder, Rivas Rodriguez and other WLS members were called and ordered to bring shovels to the wooded area, where they dug a hole and buried the victims body. The body was later located and recovered with a gunshot wound to the head.
Rivas Rodriguez also conspired with other MS-13 members to kill a female member of the rival 18th Street gang. Rivas Rodriguez and the WLS leader ordered subordinate members of the gang to track the female to a house and kill her. The group of MS-13 subordinates gathered with guns and were preparing to follow their orders, when police arrived on scene and stopped the plan from coming to fruition.
Rivas Rodriguez and Yanes-Rivera were also responsible for collecting extortion payments, or “rents,” from at least two extortion victims on behalf of WLS. Rivas Rodriguez and Yanes-Rivera knew that the victims making extortion payments did so under the threat of death or bodily injury by members of WLS.
Finally, Yanes-Rivera also participated in money laundering by transferring gang funds obtained through its extortion activities to MS-13 members and associates in El Salvador.
Court documents explain, La Mara Salvatrucha gang, also known as “MS-13,” is an international criminal organization composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, with members operating in the State of Maryland, including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Frederick County, and throughout the United States. In Maryland and elsewhere, MS-13 members are organized in “cliques,” smaller groups that operate in a specific city or region. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence, both to maintain membership and discipline within the gang and against rival gangs. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known 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.
This information was obtained via a press release from The United States Attorney’s Office for The District of Maryland, dated March 14, 2023.