October 2, 2014

Leader of Hudson County Set of Violent International Street Gang Pleads Guilty to Murder Conspiracy

NEWARK, NJ—A member of the international criminal street gang Mara Salvatrucha (also known as “MS” or “MS-13”), today admitted trying to kill a rival gang member, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Marvin Garcia-Cruz, a/k/a “Buffalo,” 31, of West New York, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Stanley R. Chesler to one count of conspiring to commit murder in aid of racketeering and one count of conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence. Garcia-Cruz was previously indicted in July 2014 with numerous other top-ranking members of MS-13 for various racketeering crimes.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Garcia-Cruz admitted to being the leader of an MS-13 set, or “clique,” operating in Hudson County, known as “Pinos Locos Salvatrucha.” In November 2013, leaders of several MS-13 cliques operating in northern New Jersey hatched a plot to murder rival gang members. Before carrying out the plot, these local gang leaders sought authorization from some of the highest-ranking members in the gang’s national and international leadership—including Joel Antonio Cortez, a/k/a “Pee Wee,” who served as a top deputy to Jose Juan Rodriguez-Juarez, a/k/a “Sacerdote,” the leader of Mara Salvatrucha in the United States. Law enforcement learned of the murder plot during the course of the investigation and arrested gang members, including Garcia-Cruz, before it could be carried out.

The murder conspiracy count to which Garcia-Cruz pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The firearm conspiracy count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2015.

Aside from Garcia-Cruz, eight defendants—including Cortez and Rodriguez-Juarez—remain in federal custody, awaiting trial on the indictment pending before Judge Chesler.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. The investigation involved multiple FBI Field Offices, with substantial assistance provided by the FBI Field Office in Los Angeles. Fishman also thanked the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory, and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Grace Park, for their work on this case. He also acknowledged the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California for its assistance in the ongoing investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James M. Donnelly and Andrew J. Bruck of the U.S Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the other defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.