By Rachel Menitoff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s a busy time for prosecutors in Maryland; in just the last two weeks, seven MS-13 gang members have been sent to prison- some for 32-year terms.

Historically, the gang would have been limited to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, but they are now moving north into Frederick and Anne Arundel counties. The FBI said they’re even seeing a presence in Baltimore.

This week, 27-year-old MS-13 gang leader Jesus Danilo Romero Deleon was sentenced to 28 years in prison. The judge threw out the typical 15-year sentencing guidelines, saying the nature of the crimes was disturbing and the defendant has ongoing participation in the MS-13 gang.

“The hallmark of the MS-13 gang is extreme levels of violence. They’re not just going after their rivals or people who they perceive to be their rivals. They’re seeking to send a message to the community that they seek to control through the extreme levels of violence.” said Robert Hur, U.S. Attorney for District of Maryland.

Hur explains prosecutors are considering serious sentences in cases involving MS-13 members, a gang that uses terrorizing tactics to force the communities they occupy to live in fear.

“MS-13 stands out because of the gruesome nature of the violent crimes that they commit. It takes a very deranged person to take a machete and behead someone.” said Chevyvoryea Gibson, assistance special agent for the FBI.

Jesus Romero’s case stemmed from an argument and perceived disrespect by his victim. Three months later, he saw the victim in a Gaithersburg restaurant, followed him outside and stabbed him twice.

WJZ’s investigation shows members sell drugs and extort money from businesses with off and on orders from leaders in central America who claim some of the profits.

“What we see are a lot of communications, phone calls, money going back and forth, and a lot of coordination between gang members in El Salvador and gang members here in Maryland.” Hur said.

Maryland has become one of the first states to offer a tipline specifically for reports of MS-13 gang activity. The call goes directly to the FBI and callers can remain anonymous.

Rachel Menitoff

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