Luis Rivas, Dennis Cabrera and Javier Rodriguez, members of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the MS-13, a transnational criminal organization, will be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon in federal court in Brooklyn on an indictment charging them with assault in-aid-of racketeering. The defendants were arrested earlier today and transferred to federal custody. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the indictment and arrests.
According to court filings, the defendants are members of MS-13. On October 22, 2018, while the defendants were incarcerated on state charges at the Manhattan Detention Complex, they assaulted a fellow inmate who they suspected to be a member of the rival Latin King gang, punching, kicking and stabbing him with a makeshift knife, first in his cell and then in a hallway of the facility. The brutal assault was captured on video surveillance footage. At the conclusion of the assault, Rivas flashed an MS-13 hand sign at the victim.
The victim suffered multiple puncture wounds to his back, torso and arms, including two deeper lacerations that required stitches.
“As alleged, the defendants are members of the MS-13, an international gang known for its culture of violence,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Unprovoked, they assaulted and stabbed an inmate housed with them for no other reason than the inmate’s suspected affiliation with a rival gang. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold MS-13 members accountable for their crimes.” Mr. Donoghue thanked the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for its assistance in the investigation.
“The gang members charged in this investigation displayed once again their disregard for obeying the law and for human life, allegedly stabbing and beating another inmate while incarcerated for other crimes. The FBI New York Safe Streets Task Forces work each day to disrupt and dismantle MS-13 in our communities, so their dangerous and criminal actions don’t harm innocent people.”
“Targeting and dismantling gangs and crews, and preventing the violence so often associated with their illegal activities, continues to be among the highest priorities for the NYPD and our law enforcement partners,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill. “By precisely targeting the relatively small percentage of people responsible for committing much of the violence in New York, we are making the safest large city in America even safer. We remain relentless in our efforts to identify, arrest, and prosecute anyone who involves themselves in such behavior whether it is on our streets or in our jails.”
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment.
Today’s indictment is the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York targeting members of the MS-13, a violent international criminal organization. The MS-13’s leadership is based in El Salvador and Honduras, but the gang has thousands of members across the United States, comprised primarily of immigrants from Central America. Since 2003, hundreds of MS-13 members, including dozens of clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. A majority of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges for participating in murders, attempted murders and assaults. Since 2010, this Office has obtained indictments charging MS-13 members with carrying out more than 45 murders in the district, and has convicted dozens of MS-13 leaders and members in connection with those murders. These prosecutions are the product of investigations led by our law enforcement partners including the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, comprising agents and officers of the FBI and NYPD.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Nadia E. Moore and Nadia I. Shihata are in charge of the prosecution.