Monday, January 18, 2021

Former Government Contractor Sentenced For Role In Bribery And Kickback Scheme

 The U.S. Justice Department released the below information: 

A former government contractor was sentenced today for his role in a bribery and kickback scheme where he paid bribes to secure U.S. Army contracts. 

David P. Burns, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Kenji M. Price, U.S. Attorney of the District of Hawaii; Ray Park, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s (Army-CID) Pacific Fraud Field Office; Bryan Denny, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS); and Eli “Sam” Miranda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office made the announcement. 

John Winslett, 66, of Bristol, Rhode Island, was sentenced to 70 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release before Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright in the District of Hawaii. 

According to court documents and information presented in court, Winslett admitted that from 2011 to 2018, he paid over $100,000 worth of bribes to two U.S. Army contracting officials who worked at the Range at Schofield Barracks, in order to steer federal contracts worth at least $19 million to his employer, a government contractor. The bribes included cash, automobiles, and firearms. In return, the contracting officials used their positions to benefit Winslett’s employer in securing U.S. Army contracts. 

Winslett further admitted that he accepted $723,333.33 in kickbacks from a local subcontractor in exchange for Winslett assigning those contracts to that local subcontractor.

Army-CID, DCIS and the FBI investigated this case. 

Trial Attorney Laura Connelly and Principal Assistant Chief Justin Weitz of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Wallenstein of the District of Hawaii are prosecuting the case.  

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Ralph Cipriano: Krasner Strikes Again! Accused Murderer Of Dog Walker Was Twice-Convicted Felon Previously Arrested For Carjacking

 Ralph Cipriano at offers a piece on the accused murderer of a dog walker, who should have been in prison. 

Three weeks before he allegedly murdered a dog walker in Brewerytown, Davis L. Josephus, 20, a twice convicted felon, was in jail after he'd been arrested for an alleged carjacking. 

But on Dec. 23, 2020, Josephus's bail for the carjacking case was reduced from $100,000 to $20,000. On Dec. 29, 2020, Josephus only had to post 10%, or $2,000, to get out of jail. 

Just 15 days later, on Jan. 13th, 25-year-old Milan Loncar was walking his dog Roo around 7 p.m. at 31st and Jefferson Streets, a block from his home in Brewerytown, when Josephus and another suspect held him up.  

Josephus, according to police sources, allegedly stood in front of Loncar; the other suspect stood behind Loncar as they went through the victim's pockets. 

Then, Josephus allegedly put a gun to Loncar's chest and pulled the trigger. Loncar, a recent Temple University graduate, was mortally wounded. He sat down on the ground, took out his cell phone and appeared to have tried to summon help. Then he stood up, staggered backward, and collapsed supine on the ground while Roo, his pet dog, a mix breed of dachshund and chihuahua, ran to Loncar's side, and wouldn't leave. 

Loncar was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at Temple University Hospital.  

Josephus should have never been out on the street.  

… Carlos Vega, a career homicide prosecutor running for the May 18th Democratic nomination for district attorney, said the blame for Loncar's murder rested squarely on District Attorney Larry Krasner. 

"Basically, had Larry followed the law to keep the public safe, this young man would still be alive," Vega said about the victim. 

About Josephus, Vega said, "There was no reason legally for him to be on the street with his record and what he had done." 

"Judging by his alleged carjacking with a gun, his alleged assault in prison with a weapon, and his two robbery convictions, it was only a matter of time before he [Josephus] killed someone," Vega said.  

According to Vega, Josephus should have been in custody because he was in violation of parole for his two robberies, because the carjacking arrested violated his probation. 

In response, Krasner and his official spokesperson, Jane Roh, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Krasner Strikes Again! Accused Murderer Of Dog Walker Was Twice-Convicted Felon Previously Arrested For Carjacking | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Captain And 10 Members And Associates Of Gambino Crime Family Plead Guilty To Crimes Including Racketeering Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, Money Laundering And Obstruction Of Justice

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York released the below information: 

Earlier today, and throughout the past week in federal court in Brooklyn, 11 members and associates of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra pleaded guilty to multiple crimes, including racketeering conspiracy, fraud, obstruction of justice and related offenses for criminal activities throughout the New York metropolitan area committed as part of the illicit activities of the Gambino family.  One additional defendant pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return.  The proceedings were held before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann.

Today, Andrew Campos, a captain in the Gambino organized crime family, and Vincent Fiore, a Gambino family soldier, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, variously admitting their participation in predicate acts of wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice offenses. 

Previously, Richard Martino, a Gambino family soldier, and Frank Tarul, a Gambino crime family associate, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruction justice;  Mark Kocaj, Benito DiZenzo and Carlos Cobos, Sr., Gambino family associates, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy;  James Ciaccia and George Campos, Gambino family soldiers, and Renato Barca, Jr. and Michael Tarul, Gambino family associates, pleaded guilty to making false statements in connection with their fraudulently obtaining safety cards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”).  John Simonlacaj, a former managing director of a construction company, pleaded guilty to submitting a false tax return. 

Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the guilty pleas.

“With these guilty pleas, a dozen members and associates of the Gambino crime family are held accountable for committing a litany of crimes in the construction industry that enriched the Mafia at the expense of the American taxpayer, construction companies harmed by their pernicious presence and the U.S. government,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme.  “The defendants will now have to pay the consequences for their corrupt activities.”  Mr. DuCharme expressed his grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, the Internal Revenue Service- Criminal Investigation, the New York City Police Department and the Department of Labor for their exemplary work on the case.  Mr. DuCharme also thanked the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Probation Departments for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for their assistance during the investigation.

According to court filings and facts presented during the guilty plea proceedings, Andrew Campos and members of his crew carried out fraudulent schemes to infiltrate the construction industry and earn millions of dollars in criminal proceeds, in part through their operation of a carpentry company, CWC Contracting Corp. (“CWC”).  Campos, Fiore and Cobos, among others, defrauded the U.S. government by paying CWC employees millions of dollars in cash without making the required payroll tax withholdings and payments.  Further, Campos, Fiore and others laundered money, causing checks to be made from CWC, purportedly for work performed in connection with CWC construction projects where, in fact, no services were performed.  The proceeds of these scheme were used to, among other things, construct Andrew Campos’s residence.  Further, when Fiore became aware of the government’s investigation, he tried to obstruct it by asking another person to lie about his and Campos’s misconduct.

Between June 2018 and June 2019, CWC paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to employees of a real estate development company (described in the indictment as “Construction Company #1”), including John Simonlacaj, the company’s former Managing Director of Development.  CWC paid the bribes in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of free labor and materials used for renovations on Simonlacaj’s residence, which Simonlacaj failed to report as taxable income and which Kocaj had fraudulently paid for by billing them to a CWC project for Construction Company #1.  Kocaj was recorded stating the work “should have been pro bono” because Construction Company #1 “do[es] 50 million a year in business.”  DiZenzo and Fiore performed tens of thousands of dollars of work at a gym for the benefit of an employee of another real estate development company (described in the indictment as “Construction Company #2”), which they agreed would be fraudulently paid for by billing the work to an unrelated project for Construction Company #2. 

In addition to these schemes, Martino was convicted in the Eastern District of New York in 2005 for his role in a scheme to defraud users of adult entertainment services.  Martino was ordered by the Court to pay $9.1 million in forfeiture.  After his release from prison, Martino, together with Frank Tarul and others, concealed Martino’s substantial income in order to avoid him paying the more than $300,000 forfeiture balance owed by falsely reporting that Martino had limited assets and worked for Tarul’s flooring company.  In reality, Martino operated companies that earned millions of dollars.

Finally, Barca, George Campos, Ciaccia and Michael Tarul, along with others, fraudulently procured safety cards from the United States Department of Labor indicating the completion of certain OSHA training courses when, in fact, the courses were not completed.

When sentenced, Andrew Campos, Cobos, DiZenzo, Fiore, Kocaj, Martino and Frank Tarul each face up to 20 years in prison.  Barca, George Campos, Ciaccia and Michael Tarul each face up to 5 years in prison.  Simonlacaj faces up to 3 years in prison

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Keith D. Edelman and Kayla C. Bensing are in charge of the prosecution, assisted by EDNY Special Agent Erik Nesbitt.  Assistant United States Attorney Claire S. Kedeshian of the Office’s Civil Division is handling forfeiture matters. 

The Defendants:

RENATO BARCA, JR. (also known as “Ronny”)
Age: 33
Bronx, New York

Age: 51
Scarsdale, New York

Age: 73
Peekskill, New York

Age: 52
Bronx, New York

Age: 57
Brentwood, New York

BENITO DIZENZO (also known as “Benny”)
Age: 54
New Rochelle, New York

Age: 58
Briarcliff, New York

MARK KOCAJ (also known as “Chippy”)
Age: 50
Tuckahoe, New York

Age: 61
Rye, New York

JOHN SIMONLACAJ (also known as “John Si” and “Smiley”)
Age: 51
Scarsdale, New York

FRANK TARUL (also known as “Bones”)
Age: 46
Bronx, New York

MICHAEL TARUL (also known as “Perkins”)
Age: 44
Bronx, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-575 (FB)

My Threatcon Column: Breaking Up The Band: Two Of Four ISIS 'Beatles' Charged With Deaths Of Americans


My online Threatcon column was posted on Counterterrorism magazine’s website:

Like the world-famous musical band, the ISIS terrorist foursome known as “The Beatles” has broken up.

With their English accents and British background, the four terrorists have been called “The Beatles” facetiously. The men were British citizens but were stripped of their citizenship when they traveled to Syria to join ISIS.

The British agreed to hand over the accused terrorists and provide evidence against them, but the British government insisted that the U.S. agree not to pursue the death penalty in order for the men to be brought to the US to face justice. 

Two of the four terrorists are in American custody and are charged with hostage-taking of American citizens in Syria and other terrorism offenses that resulted in the deaths of James Wright Foley, Steven Joel Sotloff, Peter Edward Kassig, and Kayla Jean Mueller. The two have pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

On October 7th the U.S. Justice Department announced that Alexanda Amon Kotey, 36, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, two militant fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a foreign terrorist organization were expected to be in the U.S. and in FBI custody on charges related to their participation in a brutal hostage-taking scheme that resulted in the deaths of four American citizens, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria.

“These charges are the product of many years of hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by ISIS. Although we cannot bring them back, we can and will seek justice for them, their families, and for all Americans,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “Our message to other terrorists around the world is this — if you harm Americans, you will face American arms on the battlefield or American law in our courtrooms. Either way, you will be pursued to the ends of the earth until justice is done.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray added, “Today, we remember the victims, Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller, and their families who are forever affected by these senseless acts of violence. These families have suffered withthe painful loss of their loved ones at the hands of brutal killers;today's charges demonstrate the FBI's dedication and commitment to giving them the justice they deserve.”

According to the indictment, from 2012 to 2015, Kotey, Elsheikh, Mohamed Emwazi (who is dead), and a fourth British citizen currently incarcerated in Turkey, were ISIS fighters and participated in the abduction of American and European hostages in Syria. The men also allegedly engaged in a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against the hostages, including against American citizens James Wright Foley, Kayla Jean Mueller, Steven Joel Sotloff, and Peter Edward Kassig.

From August 2014 through October 2014, ISIS released videos depicting Emwazi’s brutal beheadings of Foley, Sotloff, and British citizens David Haines and Alan Henning. In November 2014, ISIS released a video depicting the decapitated head of Kassig. In January 2015, ISIS released videos with images of two dead Japanese citizens.

According to the indictment, Kotey, Elsheikh, and Emwazi, worked closely with Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, a former leading ISIS commander and chief media spokesperson. Until he was killed in a United States military airstrike in August 2016, Adnani reported directly to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former self-proclaimed leader of ISIS. Baghdadi was killed during a United States military operation in Syria in October 2019.

The indictment alleges that Kotey, Elsheikh, and Emwazi ran detention facilities that held hostages and engaged in a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against hostages. Kotey and Elsheikh also coordinated the Western-hostage ransom negotiations conducted by email. The release of American and other hostages was conditioned on the transfer of large sums of money or concessions from the United States government, such as the release of Muslim prisoners.

Kotey and Elsheikh are each charged with conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death; four counts of hostage taking resulting in death; conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the United States; conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists — hostage taking and murder — resulting in death; and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization resulting in death. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“We welcome the transfer of the ISIS ‘Beatles’ to the United States to stand trial in a court of law,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on October 7th. “The United States will not rest until these alleged terrorists are held accountable for their crimes and justice is delivered to their victims’ families.”

Unlike John, Paul, George and Ringo, few are saddened by the breakup of the ISIS “Beatles.”

Paul Davis’ Threatcon column covers crime, espionage, terrorism and other national security issues.


Ralph Cipriano: Philly D.A. Krasner Loses A Big One; Inspector Bologna Beats The Rap

 Veteran reporter Ralph Cipriano at offer a piece on DA Larry Krasner losing the case against former Philadelphia Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna. 

District Attorney Larry Krasner loves to indict cops, even when there's no evidence to back it up. 

Today, Krasner's reckless and irresponsible behavior blew up in his face. Former Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna walked out of court a free man after a judge threw out all the charges Krasner filed against him for lack of evidence. 

At a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court, the dismissed charges against Bologna included reckless endangerment, possession of an instrument of crime, and felony aggravated assault. 

Bologna was accused of striking a protester, Evan Gorski, in the head with his metal baton, his department-issued instrument of crime, which, according to the D.A., inflicted wounds on Gorski that required 10 staples and 10 sutures.

But when it comes to indicting cops, D.A. Krasner sees only want he wants to see. In video of the June 1st incident, which was broken down frame by frame in the courtroom, no such blow from Bologna's baton was seen striking Gorski's head. Neither was any blood visible, nor any gaping head wound.

Instead, a frame-by-frame breakdown of the video showed that the trajectory of Bologna's baton was nowhere near Gorski's head. The video showed that when Bologna's baton struck Gorski, the point of impact was on Gorski's backpack, which covered his left shoulder blade, which, under department regulations, was an acceptable use of force. 

On the witness stand, Gorski, a Temple University engineering student, claimed he was exercising his First Amendment rights at a George Floyd protest. But Gorski admitted that he was also interfering with Bologna as the officer was trying to arrest a young man wearing a pink bandana in the video.

The unidentified man in the pink bandana is seen spraying Bologna with an unidentified liquid shot from a spray bottle. On the witness stand, Gorski said the man in the pink bandana was a friend and co-worker at the Apple store where Gorski worked.

Gorski also testified that he grabbed Bologna's baton. In the video, Gorski was seen throwing the baton into a crowd while Gorski was on the ground, being subdued by the cops.

No baton blow to the head, no visible injuries; case dismissed. 

Gorski had orignally been charged with assaulting a police officer. But in the theater of the absurd that is Larry Krasner's D.A.'s office, the charge against Gorski was dismissed by the D.A.

But in court today, when none of the 0charges the D.A. filed against Bologna stuck, it was a humiliating defeat for Krasner. The D.A. now has 30 days to decide whether he will re-file charges against Bologna.

Logic would say to quit while you're behind, but when it comes to indicting cops, Krasner doesn't follow logic. 

Predictably, Krasner, who has stonewalled Big Trial for the past 18 months, told a couple of reporters at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Krasner's favorite local news outlet, that he intended to refile the charges against Bologna. 

Brilliant move, Larry. Retry the same sad case with the same lack of evidence, but expect a different result. Literally, the definition of insanity. We anxiously look forward to your next humiliating defeat.  

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

D.A. Krasner Loses A Big One; Inspector Bologna Beats The Rap | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog 

Friday, January 15, 2021

FBI Director Christopher Wray’s Remarks At Briefing On Inauguration Security

 The FBI released the below information:

During a briefing to Vice President Mike Pence with other agency officials at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., on January 14, 2021, FBI Director Christopher Wray discussed the FBI's efforts regarding inauguration security. Remarks as delivered.

Mr. Vice President, just as we’re doing with our investigation into last week’s violent activities at the Capitol, we’re bringing our aggressive operational capabilities and deep investigative and intelligence expertise to next week’s inauguration.

As Director Murray said, while the Secret Service takes the lead in inaugural security, the FBI is the lead federal agency for crisis response, for counterterrorism investigations, and intelligence analysis. In that vein, as Director Murray said, we’ve been planning for months and months on this, which is part of what I think gives us the confidence that we have. At the FBI, we’ve set up a national command post at FBI Headquarters as well as a command post in our Washington Field Office, which I know you visited before and you would recognize.

As well, we have command posts in all 56 of our field offices. Those command posts bring together personnel—not just from the FBI but from across the government—to gather intelligence, to assess potential threats, to coordinate investigations, and to surge resources where needed. They make it possible to share information in real time and allow our personnel to continually update those threat assessments.

Those command posts are going to be running 24/7 through the inauguration and, in some cases, in the days to follow.

We’re monitoring all incoming leads, whether they’re calls for armed protest, potential threats that grow out of the January 6 breach of the Capitol, or other kinds of potential threats leading up to inaugural events and in various other targets. We’re latched up with all of our partners in that regard.

When we talk about potential threats—maybe I’ll just say a word or two about that—we are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter—that’s the best way I would describe it—about a number of events surrounding the inauguration. Together with our partners, we evaluate those threats and what kind of resources to deploy against them. Right now, we‘re tracking calls for potential armed protests and activity leading up to the inauguration.

The reason I use the word “potential” is because one of the real challenges in this space is trying to distinguish what’s aspirational versus what’s intentional. We’re concerned about the potential for violence at multiple protests and rallies planned here in D.C. and at state Capitol buildings around the country in the days to come that could bring armed individuals within close proximity to government buildings and officials.

As you can imagine, the volume of information out there is significant, but we’ve been pushing that information as rapidly as possible to all of our relevant law enforcement and intelligence partners. If we find that an individual poses a violent threat, then we and our partners will take advantage of every lawful authority and method we’ve got to disrupt any attempt or attack. Our posture is aggressive; it’s going to stay that way through the inauguration.

In that vein, we and our partners have already arrested more than 100 individuals for their criminal activities in last week’s siege of the Capitol and continue to pursue countless other related investigations. Those help not only prevent those individuals from any effort to repeat that kind of activity, but also should serve as a very stern warning to anybody else who might be inclined to try to engage in that activity.

But we’re also taking other steps. The American people may not hear about every disruption in the media and may not see the FBI’s hand in everything we do, but they should be confident that there’s an awful lot of work all across the country going on behind the scenes, out of the spotlight, where we’re feeding relevant information to all of our partners so that they can harden targets as appropriate.

And as I said, we’re looking at individuals who may have an eye toward repeating that same kind of violence that we saw last week. I mean, from January 6 alone, we’ve already identified over 200 suspects. We know who you are, if you’re out there, and FBI agents are coming to find you.

My advice to people who might be inclined to follow in the footsteps of those who engaged in the kind of activity that we saw last week is: Stay home. Look at what’s happening now to the people who were involved in the Capitol siege. Wherever they scattered to—whether it was Memphis, Phoenix, Dallas, Honolulu—what they’re finding is that we’ve got FBI agents tracking them down and arresting them.

If I were those people, you don’t want to be the ones to have FBI agents knocking on your door at 6:00 a.m. So anybody who plots or attempts violence in the coming week should count on a visit.

So together with our partners here in the District and across the country, we’re going to be doing everything we can to ensure a smooth transition of power in the days to come. This is a team effort, and I’m really proud of the team that you have assembled here.

MS-13’s Highest-Ranking Leaders Charged With Terrorism Offenses In The United States

 The U.S. Justice Department released the below information: 

An indictment was unsealed in Central Islip, New York charging 14 of the world’s highest-ranking MS-13 leaders who are known today as the Ranfla Nacional, which operated as the Organization’s Board of Directors, and directed MS-13’s violence and criminal activity around the world for almost two decades. 

Specifically, the indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to provide and conceal material support to terrorists, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to finance terrorism and narco-terrorism conspiracy in connection with the defendants’ leadership of the transnational criminal organization over the past two decades from El Salvador, the United States, Mexico and elsewhere. 

Defendant Borromeo Enrique Henriquez, aka “Diablito de Hollywood,” is widely recognized as the most powerful member of the Ranfla Nacional.  Three of the indicted defendants, Fredy Ivan Jandres-Parada, aka “Lucky de Park View” and “Lacky de Park View,” Cesar Humberto Lopez-Larios, aka “El Grenas de Stoners” and “Oso de Stoners,” and Hugo Armando Quinteros-Mineros, aka “Flaco de Francis,” remain at large and should be considered armed and dangerous.  

Members of the public with information concerning their whereabouts are strongly encouraged to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) toll-free MS-13 tip line, 1-866-STP-MS13 (1-866-787-6713), or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at (866) 347-2423 or  Together, FBI and HSI have offered $20,000 in rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of each of the three fugitives.  Henriquez and 10 other defendants are in custody in El Salvador.  The United States will explore options for their extradition to the United States with the Government of El Salvador. 

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen, Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), Director of Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV) John J. Durham, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, and Executive Associate Director Derek Benner of HSI, announced the unsealing of the indictment. 

Acting Attorney General Rosen said, “The indictment announced today is the highest-reaching and most sweeping indictment targeting MS-13 and its command and control structure in U.S. history.  When Attorney General Barr announced the creation of JTFV in August 2019, he envisioned a whole-of-government approach that would combine proven prosecution tools from the past with innovative strategies designed specifically to eliminate MS-13 leadership’s ability to operate the gang and direct its terrorist activity.  This indictment reflects an important step toward achieving that goal.  By working side-by-side with our U.S. law enforcement partners and with our partners in El Salvador, we have charged MS-13’s highest-ranking leaders with operating a transnational criminal organization that utilizes terror to impose their will on neighborhoods, businesses and innocent civilians across the United States and Central America.” 

“MS-13 is responsible for a wave of death and violence that has terrorized communities, leaving neighborhoods on Long Island and throughout the Eastern District of New York awash in bloodshed,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme.  “Even when incarcerated, the Ranfla Nacional continued to direct MS-13’s global operations, recruit new members, including children, into MS-13, and orchestrate murder and mayhem around the world.  Today’s ground-breaking indictment seeks to demolish MS-13 by targeting its command and control structure and holding MS-13’s Board of Directors accountable for their terroristic actions.” 

“The FBI is committed to combatting all forms of terrorism that threaten the American people as well as our international partners,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “In collaboration with our federal, state, local and international partners, we took aggressive steps to target and pursue some of the highest levels of leadership of MS-13. This operation is a clear signal to others who engage in this type of transnational criminal activity: the FBI will work tirelessly to bring them to justice wherever they are based.”  

“For over a decade, HSI has remained steadfast in our resolve to dismantle transnational gangs like MS-13,” said HSI Executive Associate Director Benner.  “As one of the most violent and dangerous criminal enterprises, MS-13 and Ranfla Nacional were directly responsible for unthinkable violence and criminal activity in communities across the United States and throughout Central America.  As a result of the hard work and substantial resources dedicated to Joint Task Force Vulcan by our domestic and international law enforcement partners, this indictment will have a lasting disruptive effect on the future global illicit activities of this transnational criminal organization.” 

As alleged in the indictment, the Ranfla Nacional comprises the highest level of leadership of MS-13.  In approximately 2002, the defendants and other MS-13 leaders began establishing a highly organized, hierarchical command and control structure as a means to effectuate their decisions and enforce their orders, even while in prison.  

They directed acts of violence and murder in El Salvador, the United States, and elsewhere, established military-style training camps for its members and obtained military weapons such as rifles, handguns, grenades, improvised explosive devices (IED) and rocket launchers.  As leaders of MS-13, the defendants controlled swaths of territory and engaged in public relations efforts on behalf of the transnational criminal organization.  Further, the defendants used MS-13’s large membership in the United States to engage in criminal activities, such as drug trafficking and extortion to raise money to support MS-13’s terrorist activities in El Salvador and elsewhere, and directed members in the United States to commit acts of violence, including murders, to further its goals.  

As further alleged in the indictment, a central theme of the rules implemented by the Ranfla Nacional was the requirement of loyalty to MS-13, or to the “barrio.”  The requirement for loyalty was central to all aspects of life for MS-13 members.  Members who disobeyed the rules, showed disloyalty to the gang or to its leaders, cooperated with law enforcement, or disrespected other members were subject to severe punishment, including death.  The rules put in place by the Ranfla Nacional allowed the gang to flourish in parts of the United States, including within the EDNY where, under the defendants’ command, MS-13 has committed numerous acts of violence—including murders, attempted murders, assaults, kidnappings, drug trafficking, extortion of individuals and businesses, obstructed justice and sent dues and the proceeds of criminal activity by wire transfer to MS-13 leaders in El Salvador.  

As further outlined in the indictment, the Ranfla Nacional has exercised its power over the Government of El Salvador by committing acts of violence and intimidation over government officials, law enforcement and the population of El Salvador at large.  In doing so the Ranfla Nacional has ordered the killing of law enforcement and government officials in El Salvador as well as ordering a “green light,” or killing, of a FBI Special Agent detailed to El Salvador investigating MS-13 and its members.  Moreover, by controlling the level of MS-13’s violence, the Ranfla Nacional exercised leverage with the Government of El Salvador.  For example, as alleged in the indictment, from approximately 2012 until approximately 2015, the Ranfla Nacional entered into a “truce” with the then-Government of El Salvador.  

As part of this agreement, the Ranfla Nacional directed MS-13 to reduce homicides in El Salvador in exchange for improved prison conditions, benefits and cash payments.  In 2015, when this agreement collapsed, the Ranfla Nacional blamed the United States, believing that the U.S. government pressured the government of El Salvador to end the “truce” as a condition of receiving funds from the United States.  Thereafter, in early 2016, the Ranfla Nacional began planning for a major campaign of coordinated violence in El Salvador in retaliation for the harsher measures imposed on its members after the end of the “truce.”  As alleged in the indictment, the defendants ordered all cliques in El Salvador to create a specialized unit of MS-13 members to target police officers, military members, and government officials in El Salvador.  These members underwent military training at MS-13 military training camps in El Salvador.  The defendants also ordered all cliques, including those in the United States and in the EDNY, to provide profits from their MS-13-related criminal activity to be used to purchase weapons for the planned attacks on police in El Salvador.  In total, the defendants collected over $600,000 U.S. dollars for this fund which was used to purchase weapons, including M-16s and M-60 machine guns, grenades, IEDs, and rocket launchers.  Furthermore, the defendants ordered increased violence, including murders, in the EDNY and other parts of the United States, which saw a dramatic increase in MS-13 violence in 2016 and 2017.  

Finally, as alleged in the indictment, the Ranfla Nacional directed the expansion of MS-13 activities around the world, most significantly into Mexico, where several high-ranking leaders were sent to organize operations there.  In Mexico, MS-13 leaders made connections to obtain narcotics and firearms, conducted business with Mexican drug cartels such as the Zetas, Gulf Cartel, Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and Sinaloa Cartel, and engaged in human trafficking and smuggling. 

In August 2019, Attorney General William P. Barr created JTFV to carry out the recommendations of the MS-13 Subcommittee formed under the Attorney General’s Transnational Organized Crime Task Force (TOC Task Force).  The Attorney General’s TOC Task Force resulted from President Donald J. Trump’s February 2017 Executive Order directing the Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, such as MS-13, and increase the safety of the American people. 

Since its creation, JTFV has successfully implemented a whole-of-government approach to combatting MS-13, including increasing coordination and collaboration with foreign law enforcement partners, including El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala; designating priority MS-13 programs, cliques and leaders, who have the most impact on the United States, for targeted prosecutions; and coordinating significant MS-13 indictments in U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, including the first use of national security charges against MS-13 leaders. 

JTFV has been comprised of members from the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and the Criminal Division, as well as U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, including the EDNY; the District of New Jersey; the Northern District of Ohio; the District of Utah; the Eastern District of Virginia; the District of Massachusetts; the Eastern District of Texas; the Southern District of New York; the District of Alaska; the Southern District of Florida; the Southern District of California; the District of Nevada; and the District of Columbia.  In addition, all Department of Justice law enforcement agencies are involved in the effort, including the FBI; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.  In addition, HSI also plays a critical role in JTFV. 

Acting Attorney General Rosen expressed his sincere thanks to Attorney General Raul Melara of El Salvador for the assistance of his office, as well as investigators from El Salvador’s Policía Nacional Civil, Centro Antipandilla Transnacional unit for their invaluable cooperation.  Additionally, numerous Department of Justice components contributed to this indictment, including: the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section; the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs; the Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training; and Organized Crime and Gang Section; and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Executive Office.  Finally, consistent with President Trump’s Executive Order and the Attorney General’s whole of government approach, the Department of State has provided critical support for JTFV’s mission. 

The charges announced today are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Donnelly, Matthew Shepherd, and Stewart Young from JTFV, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul G. Scotti, Justina L. Geraci, and Megan E. Farrell from the EDNY’s Long Island Criminal Division.