High-Ranking Member Of MS-13 Sentenced To 13 Years In Prison

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that AMILCAR ROMERO, a/k/a “Soldado,” a high-ranking member of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick to 13 years in prison. ROMERO previously pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Judge Broderick ordered ROMERO’s sentence in this case to run consecutively to a prior sentence for attempted murder imposed in California state court in 1997 and another prior sentence for conspiring to participate in the affairs of a racketeering enterprise, namely MS-13, imposed in the District of New Jersey in 2016.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:  “Amilcar Romero, a senior leader of the L.A. Program of MS-13, helped plan a cross-border methamphetamine distribution network. He did this by communicating with other members of the gang through a contraband cellphone in state prison while serving a lengthy sentence for a violent crime. With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to hold accountable those like Romero who threaten the safety and well-being of our communities, even if they do so from prison.”

According to the Indictment, other filings in this case, and statements during court proceedings:

ROMERO is a member of MS-13, a transnational racketeering enterprise which operates throughout North and Central America, including in El Salvador, Mexico, New York, California, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. To enrich the enterprise, protect and expand its criminal operations, enforce discipline among its members, and retaliate against members of rival gangs, members and associates of MS-13 committed, conspired, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence; distributed and possessed with intent to distribute narcotics, including methamphetamine; and obtained, possessed, and used firearms.

MS-13 is organized into chapters called “cliques.” Groups of cliques, in turn, are aligned as “programs.” Each program is governed by a group of senior gang leaders known as the “table.”

ROMERO is a high-ranking member of the table of the “L.A. Program” of MS-13. In 2019, ROMERO participated in the transnational and nationwide affairs of MS-13 through a contraband prison cellphone while he was incarcerated in Calipatria State Prison in California, including by communicating with and relaying orders to other members of MS-13 throughout the United States and in El Salvador.

In the summer and fall of 2019, ROMERO helped plan, with other high-ranking members of MS-13, for the establishment of a methamphetamine distribution network that started in Mexico and operated throughout the United States, including North Carolina, New York, Virginia, and Tennessee.

In addition, in September 2019, ROMERO and other senior members of MS-13 conspired to extort another gang member, who was told that he either had to repay money or be “green lit” (i.e., killed) for introducing a “bad connection” who supplied poor quality narcotics to the gang.

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In addition to the prison term, Judge Broderick sentenced ROMERO, 52, to three years of supervised release.

Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of Homeland Security Investigations and the New York City Police Department.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.  Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF..

This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent & Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Longyear, Justin V. Rodriguez, and Jacob Warren are in charge of the prosecution.