MS-13 Member from Montgomery County Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy Including Murder

Per the Office of the United States Attorney, District of Maryland: MS-13 member Kevin Alexander Castillo Calderon, a/k/a “Fantasma,” “Ghost,” “Eterno,” and “Josue Argueta Gonzalez,” age 25, of Colesville, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to a racketeering conspiracy, including a murder.

According to court documents, the La Mara Salvatrucha gang, also known as “MS-13,” is an international criminal organization composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, with members operating in the State of Maryland, including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Frederick County, as well as throughout the United States.  In Maryland and elsewhere, MS-13 members are organized into “cliques,” smaller groups that operate in a specific city or region.  MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence, both to maintain membership and discipline within the gang and against rival gangs.  One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible.  Participation in criminal activity by a member, particularly in violent acts directed at rival gangs or as directed by gang leadership, increases the respect accorded to that member, resulting in that member maintaining or increasing his position in the gang and opens the door to promotion to a leadership position.

According to his plea agreement, Castillo Calderon was a member and associate of Weedams Locos Salvatrucha, (“WLS”), an MS-13 clique operating primarily in Adelphi, Maryland. As detailed in court documents, on August 8, 2020, WLS members, including Castillo Calderon, WLS leader Brayan Alexander Torres and Franklyn Sanchez, were gathered at a park in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  Castillo Calderon, Torres, Sanchez and other WLS members agreed to murder Victim 4, who was suspected of cooperating with law enforcement and to whom Sanchez owed a debt.  Sanchez and another MS-13 member murdered Victim 4, then WLS members dragged Victim 4’s body to a stream and left it there.  Castillo Calderon then picked up a large rock and dropped it on Victim 4’s head.  As he was leaving the woods, Sanchez was concerned that his DNA may have been left on the body.  To prevent the discovery of DNA or other evidence and to hinder the investigation and prosecution of Victim 4’s murder, other WLS members were called and ordered to bring shovels to the wooded area, where they dug a hole and buried Victim 4’s body.  In addition, at Torres’ direction, Castillo Calderon took the guns used to shoot Victim 4 and Victim 4’s cell phone, put them in a bag he was carrying and disposed of the evidence.  Victim 4’s body was later recovered with a bullet wound to the head.

Castillo Calderon was also responsible for collecting extortion payments, or “rents,” from extortion victims on behalf of WLS, knowing that the victims making extortion payments did so under the threat of death or bodily injury by members of WLS.  For example, gang members used baseball bats to impose rents and sometimes collected rent while flashing firearms or otherwise making it known that they were carrying weapons.

Castillo Calderon and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts his plea, Castillo Calderon will be sentenced to 26 years in federal prison.  U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has scheduled sentencing for November 7, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.  Co-defendant Torres, a/k/a “Spooky,” age 29, of Adelphi, Maryland, is expected to be sentenced to 28 years in federal prison at his sentencing on September 13, 2023.  Torres will also be required to pay restitution in the full amount of the victims’ losses, including any funeral costs incurred by Victim 4’s estate.  On May 19, 2023, Judge Xinis sentenced Franklyn Edgardo Sanchez, a/k/a “Freddy,” “Magic,” “Miclo,” and “Delinquente,” age 26, of Adelphi, Maryland, to 28 years in federal prison and ordered that Sanchez must pay restitution in the full amount of the victims’ losses, including any funeral costs incurred by Victim 1 and Victim 4’s estates.

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 Project Safe Neighborhoods (“PSN”), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  PSN, an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime, is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case is also 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.

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