An MS-13 gang member implicated in nine attempted murders was sentenced to life in federal prison following an investigation by HSI, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Rolan Ivan Hernandez-Fuentes, a.k.a. “Tasmania,” pleaded guilty in April 2019 to RICO conspiracy, and was sentenced Thursday afternoon by U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle.
Two of his coconspirators, Jerson Gutierrez-Ramos, a.k.a. “Sparky,” and Kevin Cruz, a.k.a. “Street Danger,” also pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and were sentenced to 40 years and 21 years imprisonment, respectively.
As members of MS-13 – a violent transitional gang with the creed, “kill, rob, rape, control” – the defendants were requited to commit acts of violence to maintain membership.
According to plea papers, all three were members of the MS-13 clique “Irving Loco Salvatruchas,” or IRC, which attempted to kill nine people and extort a tenth during six violent episodes in the Dallas area in 2017.
Both El Salvadorian citizens in the U.S. illegally, Mr. Hernandez-Fuentes, 22, and Mr. Gutierrez-Ramos, 21, admitted to participation in all six violent episodes. Mr. Cruz, 20, also in the U.S. illegally, admitted to participation in four.
“Their despicable motto says it all: ‘kill, rob, rape, control.’ MS-13 espouses a vicious disregard for human life,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “When machete-wielding gang members terrorize our streets, they will be met with swift and certain justice. We are gratified the Court has put this defendant behind bars for the rest of his life.”
“Aside from justice being served for the many victims of violent crime at the hands of blood thirsty MS-13 gang members, this life sentence also demonstrates HSI’s capabilities and resolve to dismantle these transnational criminal organizations piece by piece,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Dallas. “We will not tolerate the presence of these vicious criminals in our communities and will continue to prioritize taking them down and putting them where they belong – behind bars!”
Per the defendant’s plea papers:
- On July 14, 2017, Hernandez-Fuentes, Gutierrez-Ramos, and other MS-13 members travelled to an apartment complex in Dallas to kill an individual whom they believed belonged to a rival gang. At the complex, the MS-13 gang members — armed with machetes and knives — ambushed the victim and another man, intending to kill both. The gang members struck, stabbed and cut the victims, inflicting life-threatening injuries. One victim had his throat and chest sliced open, necessitating cardiac surgery and an extended hospital stay. The other victim sustained cuts and lacerations to his face and head. After the attack, Hernandez-Fuentes licked the victims’ blood from the machete and stated that he liked the “taste of victory.”
- On July 15, 2017, Hernandez-Fuentes, Gutierrez-Ramos, and other MS-13 gang members attacked, robbed, and extorted a drug dealer in Irving. The gang contacted the victim under the guise of seeking heroin. Armed with the same machete from the night before, Hernandez-Fuentes later forced the victim to kneel by hitting him with the flat part of machete and then then cutting him with it. Gutierrez-Ramos then kicked the victim and another gang member took the heroin. Hernandez-Fuentes took a cell phone photo of the victim and told him that they could find him if he refused to pay the ILS clique an extortion fee, a “tax,” to deal drugs in their territory.
- On August 9, 2017, Hernandez-Fuentes, Gutierrez-Ramos, Cruz, and other MS-13 gang members attacked a victim whom they believed belonged to a rival gang at an apartment complex in Dallas, intending to kill the victim. Armed with a sledgehammer, an icepick, a metal bar, a stick, and a knife, they chased the victim, caught him when he tripped, and then attacked him. The victim, who managed to escape, suffered significant injuries, including stab wounds to his back and lacerations on several parts of his body, which left him hospitalized for three days.
- On August 19, 2017, Hernandez-Fuentes, Gutierrez-Ramos, Cruz, and other members of MS-13 attacked and robbed a victim whom they believed was a rival gang member at an apartment complex in Irving. Hernandez-Fuentes approached the victim near a Shell gas station and lured him to a nearby apartment complex where his fellow gang members were waiting. After robbing the victim, they savagely beat, kicked, and hit him with a metal bat until they thought that he was dead. The victim suffered significant injuries, including a fractured skull and bleeding from his brain, which required hospitalization.
- In late August, Hernandez-Fuentes, Gutierrez-Ramos, Cruz, and other MS-13 members plotted twice to kill a man believed to be a member of a rival gang. They first lured the victim to a park in Dallas, where they were waiting to kill him with machetes and a shotgun. The victim ultimately refused to get out of his car when he arrived at the park, and they aborted the plan to kill him. A few days later, they renewed the plot. At an apartment complex in Dallas, they blocked the victim from leaving and confronted him with a shotgun. Gutierrez-Ramos pointed the shotgun at the victim’s chest to shoot him, but the weapon jammed and did not fire. The victim then drove away and escaped.
- On September 25, 2017, Hernandez-Fuentes, Gutierrez-Ramos, Cruz, and other MS-13 gang members went to Running Bear Park in Irving to ambush and kill a victim whom they believed to be a rival gang member. Armed with machetes, sticks, and a shotgun, they lured the victim to the park under the guise that they were going to buy a tattoo machine from him. The victim, however, unexpectedly arrived at the park with three friends. Nonetheless, the victims were lured to the back of the park where the armed gang was hiding in the woods and waiting to spring. When the victims arrived near the wooded area, the armed gang confronted them and forced them to kneel. A brutal attack ensued as the assailants hacked at the four victims with their machetes. One male victim escaped unscathed. During the attack, Hernandez-Fuentes hit one male victim with the shotgun and told him not to “mess with the mara (gang).” At some point, Hernandez-Fuentes got distracted, and the victim ran away. Hernandez-Fuentes fired at the victim but missed, and the victim escaped by swimming across a pond. Another male victim also escaped after he sustained a serious cut to his arm, which required hospitalization. The female victim, however, was not so fortunate. She was savagely maimed, sustaining multiple deep lacerations to her arms, hands, and leg from the machete attack. The female victim, who was left for dead badly bleeding in the park, sustained permanent and life-threatening injuries, which required extensive medical care and hospitalization. After the attack, the attackers drove away with their weapons and property stolen from the victims. The police arrested the attackers in the days following the savage assault.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Irving Police Department, and the Dallas Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gary Tromblay and Sid Moody are prosecuting the case with Trial Attorney Julie Finocchiaro of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.