U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Georgia
(404) 581-6000
October 29, 2014

MS-13 Gang Member Sentenced to Life in Prison

ATLANTA—Remberto Argueta, a.k.a. "Pitufo," has been sentenced to two concurrent life sentences for his role in a gang-related murder and attempted murders in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

“Argueta helped MS-13 live up to its reputation as a ruthless, violent gang that spread fear throughout the community,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “He displayed a callous disregard for human life and has fittingly earned his place behind prison walls for the remainder of his life.”

“Nearly two dozen MS-13 members have been convicted as a part of this investigation, wiping out the leaders and top members of an international street gang that spread violence and fear throughout the Atlanta area,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Sentences like the one handed down today help us to put MS-13 out of business in Atlanta and throughout the United States.”

“The world will be a safer place with this defendant behind bars for the rest of his life,” said Special Agent in Charge Brock D. Nicholson, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta. “HSI is strongly committed to working with our partners at the FBI and local law enforcement agencies to identify and arrest the dangerous transnational gang members victimizing our communities.” J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “This sentencing of a hardened MS-13 gang member is one of a series of convictions and sentences of members of this gang known for their violence in the northern metro Atlanta area. While these dangerous gang members have now been neutralized, the FBI will continue to dedicate substantial investigative resources in this area to ensure that the void now created will not be filled by additional gang members or other gangs.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: MS-13 is an international gang that has operated in the Atlanta, Ga., area since at least 2005. The gang members staked out Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties as their home territory and used violence to defend their territory, attack rival gang members and commit armed robberies. The evidence presented at trial showed that Argueta, along with other members of MS-13, planned to rob Arpolonio Rios-Jarquin, a suspected drug dealer, at a hotel in April 2007. When Rios-Jarquin turned out to have his own gun, Argueta and his fellow MS-13 members engaged in a shootout with Rios-Jarquin that spilled outside the hotel room. Rios-Jarquin died from the multiple gunshot wounds inflicted on him. Surveillance video showed one of the MS-13 members stopped to pick up Rios-Jarquin’s weapon, which he later showed off as a trophy.

Additional evidence showed that in October 2007, Argueta and several other MS-13 members were at an apartment complex in Gwinnett County when Argueta spotted suspected rival gang members. He approached them and asked them who they “claimed”—that is, what gang they belonged to. When Christian Escobar responded that he and his friend, Jose Garcia-Barajas, were members of the rival 18th Street gang, Argueta said, “You’re going to die.” Argueta pulled out a handgun and started chasing and shooting at Escobar and Garcia-Barajas. He shot Escobar in the back and Garcia-Barajas in the hip and arm. While shooting at them, Argueta also fired shots into the apartments of nearby residents. An elderly woman testified that one of Argueta’s bullets hit the headrest of an armchair that she had been sitting in just a few minutes earlier.

Argueta, 27, of Lilburn, Ga., has been sentenced to two concurrent life sentences in prison. On November 22, 2013, after a trial lasting three weeks, a jury found Argueta guilty of RICO conspiracy involving murder, violent crime in aid of racketeering involving murder, and using a firearm to commit a crime of violence. Parole has been abolished in the federal system.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the DeKalb County Police Department, Gwinnett County Police Department, and Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant United States Attorney Paul R. Jones and U.S. Department of Justice, Organized Crime and Gang Section Trial Attorney Joseph K. Wheatley prosecuted the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.Presse-mails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.

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