(CNSNews.com) – On Jan. 18, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that Brayan Contreras-Avalos, 28, a resident of Langley Park, Md., has been sentenced to life in prison for his part in “a racketeering conspiracy involving murder and drug offenses.”
Contreras-Avalos, aka “Malia,” is a member of the notorious street gang La Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13, and participated in at least three murders, said ICE.
The investigation and eventual conviction of Contreras-Avalos was attained by the coordinated efforts of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore, the FBI’s Washington field office, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington and New York divisions, and local law enforcement.
“Contreras-Avalos’ terrorized the Langley Park community and earned the life sentence that was handed to him,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris.
Contreras-Avalos was sentenced on Jan.13 at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., after a three-week trial. His co-defendants were also sentenced: Luis Flores-Reyes, aka “Maloso,” “Lobo” and “Viejo Lovvon,” age 42, of Arlington, Virginia, and Jairo Jacome, aka “Abuelo,” age 40, of Langley Park.
According to ICE, Contreras-Avalos and his co-defendants were involved in “at least three murders and an additional attempted murder during the period of the conspiracy. In at least two instances, the victims were minors.”
During the investigation, it was revealed that Contreras-Avalos was involved in a 2016 stabbing that resulted in the death of two homeless persons that he “believed to be members of the 18th Street gang.” Additionally, Contreras-Avalos was given permission to commit another murder by MS-13, and “in that case, his target survived the attack but an associate did not,” said ICE.
The investigation also uncovered that the defendants were running an extortion scheme in Langley Park by making local businesses pay “rent” for the “privilege of operating in MS-13 Territory.” Contreras-Avalos, alongside one of his accomplices, trafficked narcotics using “structured transactions and intermediaries to avoid law enforcement scrutiny,” said ICE. A large amount of these proceeds were sent back to El Salvador.
Today, MS-13 is one of the largest street gangs in the United States operating under the motto “mata, viola, controla” which in English means, “kill, rape, control.” The MS-13 expects its members to “protect the gang’s name, reputation and status and to use any means necessary to force respect from those who showed disrespect,” reported ICE.
MS-13 is primarily comprised of immigrants and descendants of immigrants from El Salvador and other Central American countries. They operate throughout the United States, but Contreras-Avalos was a leader in the “Sailors Clique,” which conducts its operations in Maryland, Virginia, New Yok, New Jersey, Texas, and El Salvador.
This case is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation that is a part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). The OCDETF “identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States,” said ICE, and the PSN is a “program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.”