A member of the transnational criminal organization known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, has been arrested on RICO charges in connection with the murder of an Allston man under a Chelsea bridge in December 2010.
ADAM RODRIGUEZ, a/k/a “Pelon,” 33, was charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy. RODRIGUEZ was arrested yesterday and, following an initial appearance in federal court in Boston yesterday afternoon, was detained pending a hearing set for 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2023.
According to the charging document, MS-13 is a transnational criminal organization with tens of thousands of members located in the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and elsewhere. MS-13 branches, or “cliques,” operate throughout the United States, including in Massachusetts. In furtherance of its mission, MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence, specifically against rival gang members; kill informants; and support and defend fellow MS-13 members in attacks. MS-13 rewards members who commit acts of violence with promotions within the gang and punishes members who break gang rules.
The superseding indictment alleges that, on Dec. 18, 2010, RODRIGUEZ and other members of MS-13 murdered an Allston man under a bridge in Chelsea. It is alleged that law enforcement recently matched RODRIGUEZ's voice to a Jan. 26, 2011 recording of an MS-13 meeting in which he acknowledged his participation in the murder. Also on the recording, RODRIGUEZ was allegedly beaten for 13 seconds by other members of MS-13 for leaving Massachusetts after the murder without the gang’s permission. The superseding indictment further alleges that RODRIGUEZ committed other attempted murders with members of MS-13 following the December 2010 murder.
The superseding indictment also charges WILLIAM PINEDA PORTILLO, a/k/a “Humilde,” 30, with RICO conspiracy. PINEDA PORTILLO was originally indicted in 2017. After an arrest warrant was issued for PINEDA PORTILLO, law enforcement determined that he had been deported to El Salvador under a different name.
PINEDA PORTILLO was arrested in May 2022 on the outstanding warrant and returned to Boston after he was encountered crossing the border into Texas.
A subsequent investigation determined that a car owned by PINEDA PORTILLO's father was allegedly used to transport RODRIGUEZ , other MS-13 members and the victim to the scene of the December 2010 murder in Chelsea. PINEDA PORTILLO also allegedly worked to sell a firearm to someone he believed was a fellow MS-13 member, but who was instead a cooperating witness working with law enforcement. It is further alleged that PINEDA PORTILLO conspired to murder an MS-13 member he believed was an informant. PINEDA PORTILLO remains in custody awaiting trial.
The charge of RICO conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts; Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Michael J. Krol, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations, in New England; John E. Mawn Jr., Interim Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police; and Chelsea Police Chief Keith Houghton made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Pohl, Brian A. Fogerty, and Meghan C. Cleary of the Office’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
This operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The details contained in the superseding indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.