Hyattsville man sentenced in gang extortion scheme

  • St Mary's County
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Greenbelt, MD -- A Hyattsville man who was a member of La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 gang was sentenced on Monday for his part in an extortion operation. 

Gerdandino Delgado-Escobar, a/k/a “Pumba,” 24, was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by extortion. He was also ordered to pay restitution to his victims. A federal jury convicted Delgado-Escobar on June 13.

MS-13 generated income from various sources, including the extortion of money from businesses in the Washington, D.C. area.  The gang targeted both legitimate businesses like food and beverage sellers as well as drug dealers, brothels, and unlicensed “stores” where food, alcoholic beverages, and cigarettes were sold.

According to the Justice Department, MS-13 is a violent gang 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, Anne Arundel County, and Frederick County, and throughout the United States.  Branches or “cliques” of MS-13 often work together cooperatively as “Programs,” with the purpose of increasing the gang’s levels of organization, violence, extortion, and other criminal activity, and to assist one another in avoiding detection by law enforcement.

Delgado-Escobar was a member and associate of the Langley Park Salvatrucha (“LPS”) clique of MS-13.  From at least March 2013, Delgado-Escobar, working with other MS-13 members and associates, extracted weekly extortion payments known as “rent” from victim business owners for operating in territory controlled by the LPS and Sailors cliques of MS-13.  According to trial testimony, the payments were generally about $40 to $50 per week for beer delivery businesses and around $115 per week for brothel owners.

Delgado-Escobar and his co-conspirators extorted numerous business owners operating in the Langley Park area through the use of actual and threatened force, violence, and fear.  According to the trial evidence, in one instance a victim who delivered beer was grabbed by the neck, had a gun put to his head, and was threatened with the murder of his entire family if the victim did not pay MS-13 for operating a business in its territory. MS-13 members referred to these extortion payments as “rent.”

“This prosecution and sentence send a strong message to MS-13 gang members that we will not tolerate the fear and violence perpetrated by MS-13 in Maryland,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “Federal, state, and local law enforcement will continue to work together to find and bring to justice MS-13 members who prey on our neighborhoods.”

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