On Monday, a Boston-based leader of the transnational drug gang MS-13 was sentenced to 19 years in federal prison and will be subject to deportation to his native El Salvador upon his release, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
Rafael Leoner Aguirre, also known as “Tremendo,” was convicted of conspiracy to commit racketeering, commonly referred to as a RICO conspiracy.
Leoner Aguirre, a leader of Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha, an MS-13 clique, illegally immigrated to the United States in 2013, settling in Michigan prior to relocating to Boston to recruit for his gang.
Among other tactics, Leoner Aguirre utilized YouTube videos to recruit new members of his clique. MS-13’s history of recruiting high school students was confirmed by one witness at Leoner Aguirre’s trial who testified that he had viewed such a video while in high school.
Leoner Aguirre was actively organizing and leading his clique by March of 2014, directing those under him to attack and murder members of rival gangs, perpetrate robberies and engage in other racketeering activities.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, “Leoner Aguirre was also convicted of two attempted murders, both in daylight on busy public streets in Chelsea, Mass., and one involving a machete, a commonly used tool in MS-13 executions. He is currently serving a four to five year prison sentence for the second attempted murder, which he will complete prior to beginning his nineteen year prison term.”
Guilty pleas have also been entered by eight other members of Leoner Aguirre’s MS-13 clique, who will also face federal sentences and be subject to deportation upon completion of their terms.
Leoner Aguirre and his associates are representative of the majority of convicts in the federal system. A recent analysis from the Department of Homeland Security revealed that 94 percent of confirmed non-citizens in the federal prison system are unlawfully present in the United States.