Six defendants face multiple charges in similar cases of murder and racketeering
Federal authorities say they are prosecuting six local men under federal racketeering statutes following at least three murders in the last two years.
The latest indictment is against one of the defendants in an alleged gang-related murder that took place in Gaithersburg last summer. That man is now being prosecuted in federal court under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.
Oscar Ernesto Delgado-Perez was originally arrested in September in connection with the murder of Cristian Antonio Villagran-Morales in July.
Delgado-Perez, who police said was a member of the notorious Central-American street gang MS- 13, was charged with 1st degree murder, but the charge was dropped in November.
Delgado-Perez’s case was taken to federal court where he was indicted under RICO. It is alleged that Delgado-Perez was part of MS-13.
“We generally don't discuss our charging decisions,” said Marcia Murphy, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney for Maryland.
Ramon Korionoff, the public affairs director for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, said the first-degree murder charge was dropped because there was not enough evidence to prosecute him in state court.
“We did not have sufficient evidence under Maryland law to move forward in the case. That coupled with a Federal investigation, we believed it was a better use of resources to work with our colleagues in US Attorney's office to ensure a federal prosecution,” Korionoff said.
Delgado-Perez’s attorney Alfred Guillaume said he had no comment on his client’s case.
A grand jury indicted Delgado-Perez, along with five others, March 27 on 11 charges including conspiracy to participate in racketeering enterprise, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted murder in aid of racketeering.
“The defendants and other MS-13 members and associates agreed to purchase, maintain, and circulate weapons and firearms for use in criminal activity by MS-13 members,” Murphy said.
Delgado-Perez as well as the other co-defendants will face life in prison if convicted.
The others indicted were Jose Augustin Salmeron-Larios; Noe Coreas-Mejia; Juan Carlos Espinal-Rapalo; Daniel Adonai Ramos-Romero and Kevin Henriquez-Chavez. According to the indictment, federal prosecutors believe all of them to be members of MS-13.
While Delgado-Perez’s first-degree murder charge was dropped in State court, the murder was cited in the 11-part federal indictment. The murder charge dates back to July when police issued an arrest warrant for Delgado-Perez for the murder of Villagran-Morales.
Police also arrested Jose Coreas Ventura, 20; Josue Fermin Caudra-Quintanilla, 18, Vanesa Alvarado, 10 and Juan Gutierrez-Vasquez, 16 in connection with the murder.
According to police, Alvarado was able to lure Villagran-Morales to meet her with the promise of sex. Villagran-Morales met Alvarado near Malcom King Park in Gaithersburg and accompanied her and several others into the woods under the pretense of smoking marijuana.
Villagran-Morales followed the group into the woods and was stabbed more than 40 times and died from the wounds.
“Unfortunately, Christian made the decision to go into the woods with them. He did not come out of those woods,” said Darren Francke, director of Montgomery County Police Major Crimes Division.
Police said members of MS- 13 plotted to kill Villagran-Morales because they believed he was part of a rival gang. Police said Villagran-Morales was not part of a gang but was living in the County with his cousin working as a landscaper.
Murphy did not say whether the other suspects would have their cases move to federal court as well.
Co-defendant Salmeron-Larios is suspected in a similar murder as the one in which Delgado-Perez is accused of participating. According to the indictment Salmeron-Larios is accused of murdering someone in Prince George’s County after having a woman lure them into a trap.
Coreas-Mejia, was also indicted under RICO and according to the indictment lured a person to an I-495 underpass in Silver Spring and then murdered the person. All the defendants are being detained in a federal facility and are awaiting trial.