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Teen gang member gets 26 years for violent racketeering

Greenbelt, MD - On Friday, March 29, U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis sentenced Kevin Soriana-Hernandez, a/k/a “Brocha,” 19, of Riverdale, to 26 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for his participation in the racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, including a murder and attempted murder.

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur for the District of Maryland, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Safe Streets/HIDTA Task Force, Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Jesse R. Fong of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Washington Field Division, Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department, Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department, Chief Amal Awad of the Hyattsville Police Department, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

“This sentence sends a message that the violence perpetrated by MS-13 members and associates will not be tolerated,” said United States Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “Our ongoing work with our law enforcement partners to bring other gang members to justice, demonstrates our unflagging commitment to eliminate MS-13 and its campaign of wanton violence.”

“MS-13’s stock-in-trade is violence and intimidation, as shown by the brutal and premeditated murder that Kevin Soriana-Hernandez and his fellow MS-13 members committed in Riverdale on Sept. 16, 2017,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “The Department of Justice will not rest in our mission to dismantle MS-13 and put an end to the gang’s evil efforts to terrorize our streets.”

According to the plea agreement, MS-13 is a gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, with members operating in the State of Maryland, including Montgomery County and Prince George’s 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. MS-13 members and associates are required to commit acts of violence 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.

As detailed in his plea agreement, Soriana-Hernandez admitted that since at least September 2017, he was a member and associate of the Sailors clique of MS-13, in Riverdale, Maryland.  Beginning in approximately August 2017, members of the Sailors clique, including Soriana-Hernandez, engaged in an ongoing and escalating altercation with a group of individuals also residing in Riverdale, whom they believed to be members of a rival gang.  The two groups threatened each other with physical violence, brandished firearms, and shot at each other.

Soriana-Hernandez also admitted that on September 16, 2017, he and other MS-13 members and associates planned and conspired to murder individuals in the rival group.  Specifically, Soriana-Hernandez admitted that on September 16, 2017, he and four co-conspirators drove to the area in Riverdale where two of the suspected gang rivals were located, and parked on a hill overlooking the area.  Soriana-Hernandez and two co-conspirators covered their faces and proceeded down the hill toward the location.  At the time, one victim was seated in a car and the other was near the car.  Soriana-Hernandez fired multiple shots at the car and at both victims, but did not strike either victim.  One co-conspirator fired a single shot at the victim who was sitting in the car, after which the firearm jammed.  Another co-conspirator then approached the vehicle and stabbed that victim multiple times. The victim later died.  According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the victim died from a single gunshot wound and 13 stab wounds.

Five of Soriana-Hernandez’s co-defendants remain charged in the eighth superseding indictment with various racketeering violations, including conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, drug trafficking conspiracy, and extortion conspiracy.  The trial of the remaining defendants is scheduled to begin on January 6, 2020.  Those defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur and Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski commended the FBI Washington Field Office’s Safe Streets/HIDTA Task Force, HSI Baltimore, the DEA Washington Field Office, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Hyattsville 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.  The WFO’s Safe Streets/HIDTA Task Force is composed of FBI Agents along with Detectives from the Capital Region engaged in identifying, disrupting and dismantling the most prolific gangs in the region to include MS-13.

Mr. Hur and Mr. Benczkowski thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and Catherine K. Dick and Trial Attorneys Francesca Liquori and Julie Finocchiaro of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

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