MS-13 Leader Sentenced to Life in Federal Prison for Racketeering Conspiracy and Conspiring to Commit Multiple Murders
The Defendant Directed and/or Participated in Murders in Maryland and Virginia
GREENBELT, MD – U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis sentenced El Salvadorian national Miguel Angel Corea Diaz, a/k/a “Reaper,” age 41, of Long Branch, New Jersey today to life in prison for conspiring to participate in La Mara Salvatrucha, a transnational criminal enterprise also known as MS-13 and for conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and murder in aid of racketeering; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, cocaine, and heroin; and possession with intent to distribute heroin. A federal jury convicted Corea Diaz of those charges on November 23, 2021 after a four-week trial.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly; Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D'Antuono, of the FBI Washington Field Office; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations Baltimore Office; Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Chief Malik Aziz of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Bedford County (VA) Sheriff Michael W. Miller.
“The ruthlessness of MS-13 in pursuit of profits shows a clear link between violence and the illicit drug trade,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “Today’s sentence won’t undo the harm Diaz is responsible for, but it ensures that for the rest of his life, he will no longer be a direct threat to the communities he terrorized for so long. DEA will continue to work tirelessly with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to ensure violent criminals like Diaz are taken off the streets, helping to make American communities safer and healthier.”
“The brutality of Corea Diaz is almost unfathomable. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to remove these violent gang members to keep our communities safe from the violence perpetrated by MS-13,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron. “With the help of members of our communities we will work to bring to justice those MS-13 members who commit these horrible crimes.”
“Miguel Angel Corea Diaz, also known as Reaper, reported directly to the gang’s top leadership in El Salvador and was responsible for implementing MS-13’s program of violence and intimidation on the East Coast,” said Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly. “In 2017, our office, working with dedicated members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, began an investigation into illicit narcotics, which were being trafficked and distributed on Long Island. That investigation quickly mushroomed as we learned more about MS-13 and the reign of terror being directed by Corea Diaz. Working with more than 20 agencies, we disrupted MS-13 operations on the East Coast. I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland, the FBI, and our countless partners who helped bring Corea Diaz to justice.”
“As members of MS-13, Corea Diaz and his co-conspirators were ruthless and showed no regard for human life by extorting innocent people, tampering with witnesses, and ordering a murder over a drug dispute,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office. “With today’s sentence, Corea Diaz will no longer be able to commit senseless violence and homicidal acts on our streets. The FBI remains steadfast in our resolve to work with our partners to ensure that individuals like Corea Diaz are held accountable for their crimes and to eliminate MS-13's violence from our communities.”
“Any time we can get a notorious gang member off the streets, it is a victory for both law enforcement and law-abiding citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of HSI Baltimore. “In this case, the criminal is particularly violent, and now he will face the consequences of his crimes. HSI is grateful to have worked with our partnering federal and local law enforcement agencies to make the communities safer for the citizens of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.”
MS-13 is a transnational gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Maryland, including Frederick County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County.
According to the evidence presented at the four-week trial, between 2015 and 2018, Corea Diaz and co-defendant Junior Noe Alvarado-Requeno controlled and operated the MS-13 Sailors Locos Salvatruchos Westside (S.L.S.W. or “Sailors”) Clique through a pattern of racketeering activity, which included murder, extortion, drug trafficking, money laundering, and witness tampering. Evidence showed that the Sailors Clique ran a protection scheme in and around its home base in Langley Park, Maryland, and extorted local immigrant-run businesses by charging them “rent” for the privilege of operating in MS-13 “territory.” The Sailors Clique also trafficked in illegal drugs, including marijuana and cocaine. A large share of the proceeds of the Sailors Clique’s illegal activities were sent to gang leadership in El Salvador to further promote the goals of the gang, using structured transactions and intermediaries to avoid law enforcement scrutiny.
The Sailors Clique committed acts of violence against suspected rival gang members, as well as against its own membership for breaking gang rules. In March 2017, a member of the Sailors Clique who was hiding from law enforcement in the Lynchburg, Virginia area had a dispute with a local high school student over marijuana. In response, Corea-Diaz and co-defendant Alvarado-Requeno organized a squad of MS-13 members to drive down to Lynchburg and murder the high schooler. The gang members kidnapped the student from his front lawn and cut his hand off before killing him. After the murder, Corea Diaz and co-defendant Alvarado-Requeno helped to hide and protect the killers who escaped the scene from law enforcement.
Among the most important rules of MS-13 is the prohibition against talking to law enforcement, embodied by the maxim ver, oir, y callar – see, hear, and say nothing. The gang enforced this rule by placing a “green light” – an order to kill – on any member of MS-13 who was thought to be informing on MS-13.
Junior Noe Alvarado-Requeno, a/k/a “Insolente” and “Trankilo,” age 24, of Landover, Maryland, was also convicted at trial and faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. Judge Xinis has scheduled his sentencing for April 25, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
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 that 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.
This case is 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.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite commended the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the FBI, HSI, DEA Washington Field Division, DEA New York Division’s Long Island District Office, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, and the Bedford County Sherriff’s Office for their work in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Barron and Mr. Polite thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Hagan, and Trial Attorneys Julie Finocchiaro and Alexander Gottfried of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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