US District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor today sentenced German "Terible" Hernandez Escobar, 30, to 21 years in federal prison for his role in running one of the largest Boston-area MS-13 gangs, which included ordering the murder of a 16-year-old he thought was cooperating with authorities - only he wasn't.
Federal prosecutors had asked for a 23-year RICO sentence based on his role in running what they said was not just the largest, but the most ruthless MS-13 'cliques" - Everett Loco Salvatrucha - in a violent career that included running a "robust" marijuana operation out of Somerville, after his return to the US in 2009 following his deportation to El Salvador.
In a sentencing memorandum, the US Attorney's office in Boston focused on the death of a 16-year-old in Lawrence.
A state trooper had arrested Hernandez Escobar for driving an unregistered car on March 21, 2015 - and then charged him with illegal possession of a firearm after a search turned one up in the car. As he stewed in the Nashua Street jail, he became convinced that a junior member of his clique - Josue Aguilar Villanueva, 16 and known in the gang as Fantasma - had ratted him out.
Four months before Terible was arrested, Fantasma had been sent to a school for troubled juveniles. In early April 2015, i.e., right after Terible was arrested, Fantasma walked away from the school and returned to MS-13. As Terible explained to a fellow clique member: "I got word here about someone called Jose, and he's about 15 years old and he's skinny and brown buddy! . . . [d]on't take my word for it, but I heard . . . Pay attention to that, because supposedly someone named Jose is ratting, a 15-year-old guy, buddy!"
Fantasma's sudden re-appearance aroused suspicions in the clique – maybe Fantasma had not "escaped" from school but had instead been released because he had helped the police. From the clique's "destroyer house" at 142 Broadway in Somerville, clique members – including Noe Salvador Perez Vasquez, a/k/a "Crazy," Jose Rene Andrade, a/k/a "Inocente," Oscar Noe Recinos Garcia, a/k/a "Psycho," Julio Esau Avalos-Alvarado, a/k/a "Violento," and Manuel Dias Granados, a/k/a "Perverso" - discussed how and when to murder Fantasma.
Faithful to MS-13's rule that cooperators must be killed, members of ELS sought a "green light," or permission to kill, Fantasma from MS-13 leaders in El Salvador and devised a plan to murder the 16-year-old paro. The conspiracy to murder Fantasma changed over time, involved different members of the clique, and involved different plots. The initial plan to kill Fantasma by luring him to "the mountain," an isolated area where ELS members met to hang out and smoke marijuana, was thwarted by the arrest of Inocente, the intended murderer. Undeterred, Crazy, the clique's then de facto leader, and Psycho sent two MS-13 probationary members - Josue Alexis DePaz, a/k/a "Gato," and Perverso - to Lawrence. Once there, Gato and Perverso lured Fantasma to a park in Lawrence and stabbed Fantasma to death. Gato and Perverso returned to 142 Broadway to await their promotion to "homeboy" or full member of MS-13.
Of course, while it does not matter to the Court, and should not matter to anyone, Fantasma was not cooperating with the police. The information in the PSR [pre-sentencing report], and the evidence presented at the Group Three March-April 2018 trial, leads inexorably to one conclusion: namely, but for Terible's musings about Fantasma being an informant, Fantasma would be alive today. Terible's role in setting the Fantasma murder in motion would be sufficient justification for the Court to impose the Of course, while it does not matter to the Court, and should not matter to anyone, Fantasma was not cooperating with the police.
The information in the PSR, and the evidence presented at the Group Three March-April 2018 trial, leads inexorably to one conclusion: namely, but for Terible's musings about Fantasma being an informant, Fantasma would be alive today. Terible's role in setting the Fantasma murder in motion would be sufficient justification for the Court to impose the recommended 276-month prison sentence. But the PSR contains additional, compelling information about Terible and the depth of his commitment to MS-13. As a younger member of MS-13, Terible and another senior MS-13 member attacked a gang rival based on the color of his clothes – except the victim was not a gang rival but rather a man walking down the street in a red sweatshirt.