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MS-13 gang member faces nearly 40 years in prison after guilty pleas

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Federal prosecutors say MS-13 gang member Carlos Alas Brizuela, a/k/a “Truco” and “Stewie,” age 29, pleaded guilty Monday to a federal racketeering charge related to his participation in a violent racketeering conspiracy, specifically MS-13, including two murders, two attempted murders, and a kidnapping.

According to Brizuela’s plea agreement, beginning in 2015 Brizuela conspired with other MS-13 members and associates to engage in racketeering activity including murders, conspiracies to commit murder, attempted murders, extortion, robbery, and drug trafficking, in order to further the interests of the gang. Brizuela and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea agreement, Brizuela will be sentenced to between 29 and 36 years in federal prison.  Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar has scheduled sentencing for February 10, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

A total of 29 defendants have been charged in this case with participating in a racketeering conspiracy and/or other crimes related to their association with MS-13, including 18 defendants charged in the fifth superseding indictment filed on October 21, 2019.  A total of 13 defendants, including Brizuela, have pleaded guilty to crimes related to their participation in MS-13 gang activities.

MS-13 is a national and international gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador.  Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Frederick County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County, Maryland.  Brizuela was a member and associate of the Fulton Locotes Salvatrucha clique of MS-13.

MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence both to maintain membership and discipline within the gang, as well as against rival gang members.  Participation in criminal activity by a member, particularly in violent acts directed at rival gangs or as directed by gang leadership, increase the respect accorded to that member, resulting in that member maintaining or increasing his position in the gang, and opens the door to a promotion to a leadership position.  One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals often referred to as “chavalas,” whenever possible.

“Taking violent offenders off the street should send a message to MS-13 members and their associates that violence and senseless murder will not be tolerated in Maryland,” said FBI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Boone. “The FBI and our local, state and federal partners will continue to aggressively pursue MS-13 gang members wherever they surface and we are steadfast in making our communities a safe place for our citizens.”

“The violence and fear MS-13 inflicts upon the community is unacceptable,” said John Eisert, special agent in charge for HSI Baltimore. “HSI will continue to work towards safer streets through collaboration with our law enforcement partners to combat and dismantle criminal gangs like MS-13.”