ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A member of the MS-13 gang from Annapolis will spend 38 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that included assaults, murder, attempted murder, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, robbery, and drug trafficking, the U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Fermin Gomez-Jimenez, 23, pleaded guilty to being a gang member who participated in a racketeering conspiracy in which a rival gang member was murdered, as well as attempting to kill two people in Annapolis between 2015 and 2017, according to a statement from the department’s Maryland office. He and other gang members sold marijuana to raise money for buying more narcotics, weapons and to send to gang members in other states and El Salvador.

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On March 11, 2016, Gomez-Jimenez and other gang members lured a man to Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. One hit the victim in the head with a stick or branch, and Gomez-Jimenez, using a knife he borrowed from another gang member, stabbed the victim several times and killed him, according to the statement. Then he left the scene to stand watch so no one could enter the park while the other gang members buried the victim in a shallow grave. Police did not find the victim’s body until more than a year later when it was exhumed.

On Oct. 23, 2015, Gomez-Jimenez and other gang members planned to murder a man, and each was assigned a task to complete the murder and dispose of the evidence, according to the statement. A conspirator called the victim, an unlicensed taxi driver, for a ride. When the driver reached the destination, two other conspirators pointed a gun at the victim and another passenger. One of the victims tried to run, and the conspirators tried to run over him with the car. The other victim was attacked repeatedly with a machete. Police later determined the blood on Gomez-Jimenez’s hands matched that victim’s, according to the statement.

Both victims survived the attack but have permanent injuries as a result.

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The other defendants, all of Annapolis, also pleaded guilty for their roles in the attack. Marlon Cruz-Flores, 25, also was sentenced to 38 years in federal prison. Manuel Martinez-Aguilar, 21,  was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison.  Sentencing for Moises Reyes-Canales, 23, is set for Sept. 17. Co-defendant David Diaz-Alvarado, 20, also of Annapolis, pleaded guilty to murder in aid of racketeering in connection with his MS-13 gang activities. A fourth co-defendant, Juan Carlos Sandoval-Rodriguez, 23, was convicted on Oct. 31, 2019, of murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering after an 11-day jury trial for the murder of the taxi driver. All of the defendants remain detained.

MS-13 is a gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, with members operating throughout Maryland, including Anne Arundel County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Frederick County. 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. In Maryland and the surrounding area, these cliques include Hempstead Locos Salvatruchas (“HLS”), Parkview Locos Salvatrucha (“PVLS”), Normandie Locos Salvatrucha (“NLS” or “Normandie”), Sailors Locos Salvatrucha Westside (“SLSW” or “Sailors”), Langley Park Salvatrucha (“LPS”), Weedoms Locos Salvatrucha (“Weedoms”), and Cabanas Locos Salvatruchas (“Cabanas”). A person within the participating cliques is selected as the program leader.

To protect the gang and to enhance its reputation, MS-13 members and associates are expected to use any means necessary to force respect from those who show disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence. MS-13’s creed is based on one of its mottos, “Mata, roba, viola, controla,” which translates to, “kill, steal, rape, control.” One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible.

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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 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.

CBS Baltimore Staff