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GREENBELT, Md. — An investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore, the FBI and the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) resulted in a Maryland MS-13 gang member receiving a lengthy federal prison sentence for his part in a racketeering conspiracy that included two murders. On May 19, a judge in the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt sentenced Franklyn Edgardo Sanchez, 26, of Adelphi, to 28 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Sanchez must also pay restitution in the full amount of all the victims’ losses, including funeral costs incurred by the two murder victims’ estates.
“This joint investigation demonstrates HSI and our law enforcement partners’ refusal to tolerate gang violence and the ruthless murders committed by gang members,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris. “Their actions are reprehensible and warrant every bit of punishment they receive. HSI Baltimore are our partners are dedicated to protecting the residents of Maryland.”
According to the investigation, from at least August 2018 through July 2021, Sanchez was a member and associate of Weedams Locos Salvatrucha (WLS), an MS-13 clique operating primarily in Adelphi.
The investigation revealed that on Feb. 23, 2020, at the direction of an MS-13 leader, Sanchez and fellow MS-13 member Hernan Yanes-Rivera shot and killed a former WLS member in retaliation for suspected cooperation with law enforcement. As a result of his participation in the murder, Sanchez was promoted within the hierarchy of MS-13.
On Aug. 8, 2020, Sanchez and several WLS members agreed to murder another victim they suspected of cooperating with law enforcement and to whom Sanchez owed a debt. After driving to a wooded area in Prince George’s County, WLS leader Brayan Alexander Torres called the victim and told him to come to the wooded area to participate in a disciplinary beating of Sanchez. Sanchez was aware that the gang intended to murder the victim upon his arrival.
Sanchez was armed with a revolver, and Torres gave a second revolver to another MS-13 member to participate in the murder. When the victim arrived, Sanchez and the other MS-13 member each fired multiple shots at their victim, causing him to fall to the ground. Sanchez then pistol-whipped and stabbed him with a knife. Torres and other WLS members dragged their victim’s body to a stream and left it there. As he was leaving the woods, Sanchez noticed he was bleeding and became concerned that his DNA was left on the body.
To prevent the discovery of DNA or other evidence and to hinder the investigation and prosecution of the murder, Torres called other WLS members, including co-defendant Agustino Eugenio Rivas Rodriguez, and ordered them to bring shovels to the wooded area, where they dug a hole and buried their victim’s body. The body was later recovered with a bullet wound to the head.
The investigation further revealed that Sanchez also participated in money laundering by transferring gang funds to MS-13 members and associates in El Salvador. Sanchez knew the money he transferred was the proceeds of the gang’s extortion activities.
Sanchez’s co-conspirators, Brayan Alexander Torres, 29, of Adelphi; Hernan Yanes-Rivera, 22, of Adelphi; and Agustino Eugenio Rivas Rodriguez, 25, of Silver Spring, have all pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. They are expected to receive between 16 and 28 years in federal prison when they’re sentenced this summer.
La Mara Salvatrucha gang, also known as MS-13, is an international criminal organization 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, Frederick County and elsewhere in the United States.
MS-13 members are organized in “cliques,” which are smaller groups that operate in specific cities or regions. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence, both to maintain membership and discipline 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.
Participation in criminal activity by a member, particularly in violent acts directed at rival gangs or as directed by gang leadership, increases the respect accorded to that member, resulting in that member maintaining or increasing his position in the gang and opens the door to promotion to a leadership position.
This investigation was conducted by HSI Baltimore, FBI Baltimore, and the Prince George’s County Police Department with significant assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland and the Montgomery County Police Department.
Anyone with information about MS-13 is encouraged to provide their tips to Homeland Security Investigations. HSI has a nation-wide Tip Line that is manned 24 hours a day. You can reach HSI at 866-DHS-2423 (866-347-2423).
This case is also part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serves to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
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