In late April, a federal judge sentenced a Maryland man to 35 years in prison for distributing drugs and participating in a murder on behalf of the notorious MS-13 gang. He was also sentenced to five years of supervised release.
According to court documents, the defendant pleaded guilty to charges of distributing drugs, including cocaine and marijuana, and committing extortion and murder in the furtherance of a racketeering conspiracy. In June 2016, he joined with other MS-13 members to conspire, plan and execute the murder of a rival gang member in Gaithersburg's Malcolm King Park. Apparently, a female MS-13 member lured the victim to a wooded area in the park, and the defendant and three other male gang members attacked him with knives, stabbing him to death. The coroner's report indicated that the victim suffered over 150 penetrating wounds in the attack.
Two of the co-defendants in the case, ages 22 and 24, also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy. The 22-year-old was sentenced to 33 years in prison, and the 24-year-old was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Three other co-defendants, ages 21, 22 and 26, have pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other charges, but they have not been sentenced yet. The case was investigated by multiple law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Prince George's County Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department and Gaithersburg Police Department.
An individual arrested on drug charges could face decades in prison and other harsh consequences. By working with a criminal defense attorney, however, a defendant may develop a strong defense and mitigate some or all of the charges. For example, if an attorney discovers that police violated a defendant's rights during the investigation, the case could be dropped. Another defense strategy may involve negotiating a plea deal that lowers the charges.