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A drug dealer and MS-13 member pleaded guilty in a Maryland federal court on Thursday to charges stemming from the brutal murder of a rival gangster just outside Washington, D.C.
Moises Alexis Reyes-Canales, known to fellow gang members as "Sicopita," admitted to his involvement with the 2016 stabbing death of Jose Hernandez-Portillo in a Maryland park, as well as MS-13’s broader criminal enterprise, which has a strong presence in the capital region.
Even as leaders of the Biden Justice Department publicly promise a break with Trump-era policies, Thursday’s plea is a sign some Trump-era objectives will remain in place. In 2017, former attorney general Jeff Sessions directed the elite organized crime unit that investigated Reyes-Canales’s case to make MS-13 a top priority. That directive came after former president Donald Trump signed an executive order creating a whole-of-government approach to "destroy" the transnational criminal syndicate.
According to the plea agreement, Reyes-Canales and several others lured Hernandez-Portillo to Quiet Waters Park in Maryland in March 2016. Members of the gang struck Hernandez-Portillo with "a branch or stick," then stabbed him repeatedly. He died on the scene and was buried in a shallow grave.
Apart from the 2016 murder, Reyes-Canales admitted to plotting and attempting to murder two other individuals thought to be rival gang members. The defendant and several other associates ambushed the pair in October 2016 on a street near Quiet Waters Park with firearms and machetes. At one point during the ambush, one of Reyes-Canales’s confidants commandeered a car and tried to run the victims over. The victims were transported to the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center with grisly, life-threatening injuries. Both survived.
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