What to Know
- An MS-13 member admitted to killing a New Jersey man in 2011 on behalf of the gang as part of a racketeering conspiracy, prosecutors said
- Walter Yovany-Gomez, also known as “Cholo” pleaded guilty Monday in Newark federal court
- In addition to the Matute murder, Yovany-Gomez agreed that another conspirator would commit multiple acts of violence on behalf of MS-13
An MS-13 member, who at one point was on among the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives, admitted to killing a New Jersey man on behalf of the gang as part of a racketeering conspiracy, according to federal prosecutors.
Walter Yovany-Gomez, also known as “Cholo” pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to one count of racketeering conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Yovany-Gomez, 35, was a fugitive living in the Maryland/Virginia area from 2011 to 2017 before his capture, prosecutors say.
According to court documents, in September 2013, a Newark grand jury indicted Yovany-Gomez for murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder in an indictment that charged 14 members of Plainfield Locos Salvatrucha (PLS), a New Jersey branch of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang, with various gang-related offenses.
The court documents say the charges against Yovany-Gomez focused on the May 2011 murder of Julio Matute, whom law enforcement officers discovered beaten and stabbed to death in Matute’s Plainfield apartment. Yovany-Gomez fled New Jersey after officers went to Yovany-Gomez’s residence to question him.
Prosecutors said MS-13 leaders, members, and associates, including Yovany-Gomez, plotted to murder Matute, a PLS recruit, because they believed Matute had been socializing with rival gang members.
During the attack, Yovany-Gomez and a fellow MS-13 member, Cruz Flores, known as “Bruja,” struck Matute in the head with an aluminum baseball bat, sliced Matute’s throat with a knife, and stabbed Matute in the back 17 times with a screwdriver, court documents say, adding that Yovany-Gomez and Flores threatened to harm the individual who witnessed the murder if that person went to the police.
Several weeks after the murder, officers went to question Yovany-Gomez at his residence. When they knocked on his door, Yovany-Gomez jumped out of a second-floor window and fled, prosecutors say. In April 2017, the FBI placed Yovany-Gomez on its 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List. On Aug. 12, 2017, he was arrested without incident in Woodbridge, Virginia, based on tips received from the public, according to court documents.
Between 2014 and 2016, all 13 of Yovany-Gomez’s co-defendants charged in the September 2013 federal indictment were convicted, according to court documents. Flores was found guilty of the murder during the trial.
In addition to the Matute murder, Yovany-Gomez agreed that another conspirator would commit multiple acts of violence on behalf of MS-13.
The charge of racketeering conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, however, the plea deal between federal prosecutors and Yovany-Gomez calls for Yovany-Gomez to serve a sentence of 25 years in prison if it accepted by the court, at which point the government will dismiss the remaining charges in the 2013 federal indictment against Yovany-Gomez.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 31.