A Somerville man who led one of the local MS-13 "cliques" was sentenced to 212 months in federal prison today for RICO violations that included trying to slice up a member of a rival gang in Chelsea and helping to dispose of evidence related to the knife/gun murder of another alleged member of a rival gang on Falcon Street in East Boston.
The US Attorney's office in Boston reports that Jose "Little Crazy" Vasquez, 24, was a leader of the MS-13 Trece Locos Salvatrucha sub-gang.
According to the US Attorney's office:
On Sept. 8, 2014, Vasquez and another MS-13 member, Angel Pineda, a/k/a “Bravo,” were involved in an attempted murder of a 16-year-old suspected gang rival. During the incident, which occurred on a public street in Chelsea in the middle of the afternoon, Pineda stabbed the victim multiple times. Vasquez, carrying a machete, also attempted to stab and kill the victim, but Vasquez’s machete got stuck in its sheath. The victim survived after receiving life-saving medical care.
Vasquez also helped dispose of evidence related to the brutal murder of Cristofer Perez de la Cruz, 16, in East Boston - stabbed more than 40 times and also shot repeatedly.
A few days after the boy’s death, Vasquez - who did not participate in the murder - helped [one of the murderers] bury the knives used in the killing, as well as the bloody clothes worn by those who committed the murder. The evidence was later recovered by law enforcement.
Vasquez pleaded guilty to the charges in May.
He is one of 61 alleged MS-13 members rounded up in federal and local raids in 2016; 49 of those people have since either pled or been found guilty. Unlike most of the other MS-13 members, Vasquez is an American citizen - although he grew up in El Salvador.
Prosecutors argued for a slightly longer sentence than Judge F. Dennis Saylor imposed today, because Vasquez was not just an MS-13 member, he was a leader of one of its more notorious sub-gangs.
Every member of the TLS clique led by Vazquez who was indicted in this case was involved in racketeering activity involving murder - either as an active participant, as an accessory after the fact, or as a participant in a conspiracy to commit murder.
That Vasquez couldn't get his machete out of his sheath while his pal was slicing him up so badly he survived only because he was rushed to one of the best hospitals in the world - Mass General - should not count in his favor, prosecutors wrote:
The location and timing of the attempted murder is especially shocking and should be considered an aggravating factor. Like the murder of 16-year-old Cristofer de la Cruz in January 2016 (that Vasquez assisted by burying the murder weapons and other incriminating evidence), the attempted murder of the 16-year-old victim in September 2014 was also committed on a public street where a young boy was stabbed multiple times and left to die. This attack was not even in the middle of the night, but in broad daylight on a public street. ...
Even as attempted murders go, gang members trying to repeatedly stab and murder a teenager on a public street in broad daylight is especially troubling and appalling.
In a memorandum, his attorney argued for a sentence of no more than 15 years:
There is no question that MS-13 is a violent street gang that must be extinguished. Tough sentences achieve that goal. Fifteen years is objectively a tough sentence which will take Mr. Vasquez off the streets and protect the public for a significant time. Mr. Vasquez, unlike some of the other defendants in this case, is not a lost cause. He is a natural born citizen, who speaks English and is only 26 years old. He is not a drug abuser and his criminal history is limited. While he dropped out of school in 9th grade, he can easily earn his GED. He has a work history in manual labor jobs, but an interest in auto mechanics.
When Mr. Vasquez is released, he will remain in the U.S. and be separated from many of the individuals who were influenced his involvement in this gang. While his brother will receive a significant sentence, his parents will be available to support him upon release. He has a future.