A member of MS-13’s Eastside Loco Salvatrucha (ESLS) clique in the metro Boston area, and another from MS-13’s Enfermos Criminals Salvatrucha clique in Chelsea, both pleaded guilty last week in federal court in Boston.
Efrain Yanes-Vasquez, a/k/a “Caballo,” 35, an El Salvadorian national living in Chelsea and Pittsfield, Mass., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy, and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for July 27, 2017. Under the terms of the plea agreement, parties both recommend that Yanes-Vasquez be sentenced to 87 months in prison. He will also be subject to deportation upon completion of his sentence.
Meanwhile, Angel Pineda, a/k/a “Bravo,” 21, a Honduran national who resided in Revere and was a member of the Chelsea clique, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy, and admitted responsibility for the attempted murder of a rival 18th Street gang member in Chelsea in September 2014.
U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV Judge deferred accepting the defendant’s plea agreement until sentencing, and scheduled sentencing for July 26, 2017. If the court accepts the plea agreement, Pineda will be sentenced to 10 years in prison and will be subject to deportation after completion of his sentence.
After a three-year investigation, Pineda and Yanes-Vasquez were two of 61 defendants named in a January 2016 superseding indictment targeting the criminal activities of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 in Massachusetts. According to court documents, MS-13 is a violent transnational criminal organization whose branches or “cliques” operate throughout the United States, including Massachusetts. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence against rival gang members to gain promotions and to maintain membership and discipline within the group. Specifically, MS-13 members are required to attack and murder rival gang members whenever possible.
Pineda was a member of the Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique in Chelsea. In furtherance of the MS-13 RICO conspiracy, on Sept. 8, 2014, Pineda and another MS-13 member, Jose Vasquez, a/k/a “Little Crazy,” attempted to murder a rival 18th Street gang member by stabbing him in Chelsea.
Also during the investigation, Yanes-Vasquez was identified as a member of the ESLS clique in the metro Boston area. In furtherance of the MS-13 RICO conspiracy, Yanes-Vasquez and several other MS-13 members conspired to transport and distribute kilogram-sized quantities of cocaine in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. When Yanes-Vasquez was arrested in Pittsfield, Mass. on Sept. 15, 2016, federal agents seized a loaded firearm from his residence.
Yanes-Vasquez is the fifteenth defendant to plead guilty in this case, and Pineda is the fourteenth defendant to plead guilty in this case.
The RICO conspiracy charge provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The conspiracy to distribute cocaine charge provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, at least three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million.
The two plea deals come on the heels of an East Boston member of MS-13 pleading guilty to similar RICO charges two weeks ago.