Defendant in Murder-For-Hire Conspiracy Sentenced to Life in Prison

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis sentenced Jose David Navarro Cervellon, age 41, of Norcross, Georgia, today to life in federal prison, on charges related to a murder-for-hire that occurred on November 30, 2016, in Hyattsville, Maryland.  On July 20, 2022, after an eight-day trial, a federal jury convicted Navarro for a murder-for-hire conspiracy.  Navarro was also convicted for the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire and for murder resulting from the use, carrying, brandishing and discharging of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Postal Inspector in Charge Damon E. Wood of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; and Chief Malik Aziz of the Prince George’s County Police Department.

According to court documents and the evidence presented at his trial, Navarro was an associate of co-defendant Miguel Angel Ayala Rivera, the leader of the Pinos Locos Salvatrucha clique La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the MS-13 gang (“MS-13”) and co-defendant Miguel Antonio Renderos, whom Navarro knew from El Salvador.  In November 2016, Renderos was looking for someone to murder Victim 1 in exchange for $10,000.  Navarro introduced Renderos to Ayala Rivera, who agreed to commit the murder.

The evidence presented at trial proved that Renderos wanted Victim 1 to be killed because in 2012, after Renderos allowed the victim to move into the basement of Renderos’s home, Victim 1 began to have a romantic relationship with Renderos’s wife.  With Navarro serving as the middleman between Renderos and Ayala Rivera, the defendants exchanged phone calls to arrange the murder.

As detailed at trial and in court documents, between November 1 and November 30, 2016, Navarro paid for a hotel room for Ayala Rivera and another MS-13 member, Luis Cruz Hernandez, at a hotel in College Park.  During that time, Ayala Rivera, Navarro and Cruz Hernandez conducted surveillance of Victim 1 in and around Victim 1’s residence.  On November 30, 2016, Navarro drove Ayala Rivera and Cruz Hernandez to Victim 1’s residence, where Ayala Rivera shot and killed Victim 1.  After the murder, Navarro drove Ayala Rivera and Cruz Hernandez to collect payment from Renderos for the murder of Victim 1.

Co-defendants Miguel Angel Ayala Rivera, age 28, of Silver Spring, Maryland, and Miguel A. Renderos, age 48, of Hyattsville, Maryland, each pleaded guilty to their roles in the murder-for-hire and are awaiting sentencing.  In a related case, Luis Cruz Hernandez, age 28, of Silver Spring, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to his role in the murder-for-hire and was sentenced to 51 years in federal prison.

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 commended the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation and thanked the Montgomery County Police Department and the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for their assistance.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and Leah B. Grossi, 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 www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

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