Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that KELLY RIVAS, a/k/a “La Grumpy,” was sentenced today to four years in prison for managing dues collection and distribution for the transnational criminal organization La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. RIVAS previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion in connection with the use of force to collect payments from MS-13 members and associates. U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer imposed the sentence in Manhattan federal court.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Kelly Rivas collected dues from MS-13 members in several states, and funneled those payments to MS-13 leaders in El-Salvador, as well as MS-13 members in U.S. prisons. For her role in funding this vicious gang, she has been sentenced to a significant term in prison.”
According to statements in the Indictment, and other filings and statements at public court proceedings in the case:
MS-13 is a transnational gang that operates in El Salvador and throughout the United States, among other places. MS-13 is infamous for being a brutally violent organization. Its leadership, members, and associates engage in a variety of serious and violent criminal activity, including acts of murder and attempted murder, malicious wounding with serious injury, assaults, kidnappings, firearms trafficking, extortion, and international and interstate narcotics distribution. One hallmark of the gang is its use of machetes to commit brutal attacks, including murders, in furtherance of the gang’s activities.
RIVAS belonged to an MS-13 “clique” known as Hollywood Locos Salvatrucha (HLS). HLS operates in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, New York, and elsewhere. HLS members have committed murder and other acts of violence, and generated revenue on behalf of MS-13, including through robbery, extortion, and narcotics and firearms trafficking. HLS members are required to pay monthly dues, which MS-13 uses to support various gang activities and to support other MS-13 members, including those who are incarcerated or who live in El Salvador. Members are induced to pay dues, including through threats of violence, and members who fall behind on dues are subjected to physical beatings carried out by other members of the gang. In addition to the violent consequences for failure to pay dues, MS-13 rules establish that MS-13 members who try to withdraw from the gang will be “green lit,” meaning that the gang’s leadership will authorize the gang to murder the withdrawing member.
RIVAS collected, and oversaw the collection, of dues in New York, Virginia, Maryland, and elsewhere. She also transmitted and ensured the transmission of the collected funds to other MS-13 members, including incarcerated members and members in El Salvador, to support the gang’s activities. In the course of overseeing the collection of dues, RIVAS pressured MS-13 members to meet their dues payment obligations by any means necessary, including through criminal activities that would generate income, such as narcotics and firearms trafficking. Like other MS-13 leaders, RIVAS resorted to threats of violence to extort dues from MS-13 members and relied on physical beatings carried out by other MS-13 members to enforce payment.
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In addition to the prison term, RIVAS, 34, of Manassas Park, Virginia, was sentenced to three years of supervised release. She was further ordered to forfeit $19,346 in dues that she had collected or transmitted.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Albemarle County Police Department, and thanked the Albermarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for its assistance.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Hagan Scotten, Danielle R. Sassoon, and Daniel G. Nessim are in charge of the prosecution.