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Judge concludes MS-13 leader didn't get a long sentence because he's Hispanic, but because he led a violent gang of murderers

The federal judge who presided over the cases against MS-13 members swept up in raids in 2016 after four teenagers were murdered in East Boston ruled yesterday that a leader of the East Coast MS-13 did not get his sentence increased because of his ethnicity, but also ruled that he wants to hear more about whether the man's lawyer was "ineffective" for not appealing his 19 1/2-year sentence.

US District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor ruled that if Jose Adan "Chucky" Martinez Castro's attorney didn't appeal his sentence as Castro claims he requested, then that might be grounds for reducing his sentence. He ordered both Martinez and his then attorney to produce evidence that might help Saylor decide whether or not Martinez actively sought an appeal that his lawyer refused to submit, which came after Martinez pleaded guilty to RICO violations.

In an affidavit, the attorney, James Michael Caramanica, said Martinez never asked him to appeal, that, in fact, he said he just wanted to get on with his sentence - which is roughly four years longer than prosecutors initially offered in plea discussions that fell apart before Saylor sentenced Martinez in 2018.

Martinez was not charged with any of the teens' murders - two of whom were both hacked with large knives and shot repeatedly - but was convicted for his role in running MS-13 operations along the East Coast. Evidence for that was mainly a recording of an MS-13 conclave at his Virginia home at which he suggested murdering one errant Massachusetts MS-13 operative and a teacher who was causing trouble for some members. During the meeting, he also discussed stepping up attacks on the rival 18th Street Gang.

However, Saylor rejected Martinez's arguments that he deserves a reduced sentence because he got such a long sentence because of his involvement with "an ethnic association."

He contends that had he belonged to “the Cherokee Tribeinstead of MS-13, there is a reasonable likelihood his sentence would [have been] lower,” and that he was "sentenced more harshly than a similarly situated drug dealer [or] street gang member [would have been] solely because he was a member of the El Salvadoran Gang."

Saylor started his reasoning by reciting his sentencing considerations in his 2018 that he was troubled by the fact that the evidence against Martinez consisted mainly of the recording of that one meeting and that Martinez himself was not charged with committing any murders or other acts of violence.

But I'm persuaded by the government's arguments basically to the effect that it is necessary to impose significant punishments to leaders of organizations such as this and to put them out of commission and to impose significant punishments so that if the gang is to be crippled, or better yet, put out of commission, it can only be done by incarceration of the highest leaders.

He continues that nowhere in his sentencing did he even mention Martinez's ethnicity or even his specific membership in MS-13.

Here, there is no evidence that the Court sentenced petitioner based on his ethnicity or on his affiliation with MS-13, as opposed to his leadership of a criminal organization. ...

At no point did the Court mention petitioner's ethnicity, or even the connections between MS-13 and El Salvador. Furthermore, nothing about the sentence, or the stated reasons, suggests any form of ethnic or national-origin bias. Accordingly, petitioner was not impermissibly sentenced due to his ethnicity, and the Court will not grant him relief on that basis.

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