Department of Justice Seal

An MS-13 gang leader pleaded guilty to federal charges of racketeering conspiracy Monday, including involvement in a Frederick murder from 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Silver Spring resident Jorge Guerra-Castillo, 40, also known as “Pelon,” pleaded guilty to conspiring to participate in racketeering activities, including two murders and two attempted murders, according to a DOJ news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. His defense attorneys did not wish to comment Tuesday.

Guerra-Castillo granted “approval” for the murder of the Frederick victim, who was not identified in the DOJ release, and arranged for another gang member to participate in the murder. MS-13 members repeatedly struck the victim with a machete and knife after luring him into a wooded area in Frederick April 7, 2015, authorities said.

The victim was reportedly a suspected rival gang member and murdered “for the purpose of maintaining and increasing rank in MS-13.” MS-13 members are “required to commit acts of violence” and doing so can “increase the respect accorded to that member,” the DOJ said in its statement. Branches of MS-13 operate throughout the counties of Frederick, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s and Montgomery, according to law enforcement.

Per Guerra-Castillo’s guilty plea, he was a member of an MS-13 clique, “Fulton Locos Salvatruchas,” starting before January of 2015. He agreed with other gang members “to conduct and participate in gang activities through a pattern of racketeering activity that included conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, and drug distribution,” the release states.

Former Acting Frederick Police Department Chief Dwight Sommers was among the law enforcement officials who announced the plea, according to the DOJ. Guerra-Castillo will be sentenced to between 390 and 540 months in federal prison if the court accepts the plea agreement. Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar scheduled sentencing for Oct. 15 at 2 p.m.

“The reign of terror, acts of violence, and horrific murders that Guerra-Castillo and his fellow MS-13 members have committed will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner said in a prepared statement. “The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland and our partners are committed to breaking the strong hold of violent gangs like MS-13 with swift and stringent prosecution. We will utilize every legal resource to ensure that citizens can live peacefully and fearlessly within their own communities.”

Among other offenses the DOJ listed, Guerra-Castillo directed gang members to kidnap and kill a victim who stopped making extortion payments but was later released; gave approval to kill two victims with a machete and knives — those victims survived; and approved and assisted in planning the murder of a suspected rival gang associate, who was dismembered and buried.

Anyone with information about MS-13 is encouraged to call the FBI’s nationwide tipline, 1-866-STP-MS13 (1-866-787-6713). The FBI tipline allows people to provide information about MS-13’s criminal activities to a central location, and the FBI will then disseminate the information to the appropriate law enforcement authorities for investigation. The identity of tipsters will be protected, according to the DOJ.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter:

@MaryGraceKeller

(18) comments

Plumbum

Couple yrs ago I chatted at length with a Virgina State Police trooper in northern va about MS-13. He was telling me that MS-13 has been hot and heavy with recruiting “the boy next door” types. And saying the the modern Ms-13 youth member attends school. They blend in, making detection harder.

He went on to say that MS-13 loves small counties. As to which he explained because small counties have small law enforcement forces. Limited number of personnel and resources. With that said, we may have a higher amount of MS-13 activity than we realize

Yeah I am sure we do....but again.....I have lived here a long time and have not had any encounters with a "gang-member" so I am not so sure I am that concerned about this MS-13 gang ? And also what else has happened that points back to the MS-13 gang? I mean if they are that awful and are doing that much criming wouldn't we know about it? Or is this a super secret gang..like fight club?

phydeaux994

I’ve been here for 13 years and this is the only MS13 related incident I have heard of. And in this case the victim moved here trying to get away from the MS13 Gang, his killers didn’t live here.

Plumbum

Pretty sure there’s a presence

artandarchitecture

Mary, you happened to leave out so many colorful details of these machete murders + dismemberment.

So you don't have an imagination Art??

artandarchitecture

MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the country, operate in Maryland throughout Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel & FREDERICK counties. The MS-13 motto is “mata, viola, controla,” which translates as, “kill, rape, control,”

The gang is composed primarily of immigrants from El Salvador and other central American countries.

¯\_ (ツ)_/¯ Just a reminder:

Feds: 1 in 4 Inmates Are Foreign-Born, Costing U.S. Taxpayers $1.4B Annually - John Binder/Breitbart

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/04/17/feds-inmates-foreign-born-1-4b/

Art

Just another reminder...your source Breitbart...questionable..? And no one is disputing this gang MS-13 is evil but I am pretty sure they have polite white people gang members too..and those polite white people gang members cost us taxpayers plenty too....so your point is what exactly Art? Me I am just stunned it took the DOJ this long to charge him? So these Gang members can crime along this long before anyone does anything? Doesn't seem like this is high priority with the DOJ?

Plumbum

Corrupt politicians cost us a lot of money too. Remember Donald Trump?

shiftless88

Note that MS-13 started in this country

ART did you see shiftless88 comments here?

Yeah, see I knew there were polite white people in MS-13...hey Art did you see this ?

including involvement in a Frederick murder from 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Justice......it took the DOJ 6 years...? yeah I feel safer now...?

Dwasserba

Terrifying!

gabrielshorn2013

Good job to all LEO involved. However 32.5 to 40 years for heading a group that committed multiple acts of violence, attempted murder, and murder seems a tad light. Why not life without parole? This was organized crime using terror to keep their members in line, and their rivals at bay.

Greg F

Tall cliff, hard shove. Next.

saogirl52

I don't think there is parole in the federal criminal justice system anymore. Since he's 40 now, his sentence basically is a life sentence. There may be other opportnities for reducing his sentence, such as good behavior reductions, but I'm not sure about that. In any case, it's highly unlikely he'll be exhibiting exemplary behavior.

Oh yeah I'm sure those MS-13 gang members are quaking in their boots..it took the DOJ 6 years to charge him ? so where they gathering evidence all this time? I mean what took them so long? Or was this a super secret thing that was happening and just today is when the decided they could inform the public? Because man if there was a MS-13 gang member roaming around for 6 years....what other crimes did they commit we don't know about?

Plumbum

Not to mention ms 13’ers are usually very young, and lack the ability to process and think about the consequences

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