MS-13 member sentenced to 25 years in prison

NEWARK, NJ — An MS-13 member previously named one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives was sentenced July 31 to 25 years in prison for killing a Plainfield man on behalf of the gang, and agreeing that a conspirator would commit multiple violent acts for the gang, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Walter Yovany-Gomez, aka “Cholo,” 35, who was a fugitive residing in the Maryland/Virginia area from 2011 to 2017, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler to an information charging him with one count of racketeering conspiracy. 

“This defendant committed a vicious murder and conspired with another MS-13 member to commit further acts of violence,” Carpenito said. “When he fled New Jersey and became a fugitive, our partners at the FBI diligently pursued and eventually captured him. Today’s sentence ensures that he will now remain behind bars for a substantial period of time, thus preserving the safety of the community and punishing him appropriately for his actions.”

“Walter Yovany-Gomez thought he could steal someone’s life and escape unscathed. He obviously underestimated the men and women of the FBI,” Special Agent-in-Charge Gregoy W. Ehrie, FBI-Newark, said. “Members of bloodthirsty gangs, like MS-13, who devalue life as part of their business model, need to know that our life’s work is dedicated to keeping our citizens safe and we won’t rest until we accomplish that mission.”

According to documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court, in May 2011, MS-13 leaders, members, and associates, including Yovany-Gomez, had plotted to murder Matute, a PLS recruit, because they believed he had been socializing with rival gang members. On May 8, 2011, Yovany-Gomez and fellow MS-13 member Cruz Flores, aka “Bruja,” met Matute and another individual at Matute’s Plainfield apartment. After consuming alcohol and controlled substances with the others, Matute retired to his bedroom to sleep. When Matute attempted to leave the apartment several hours later for work, Yovany-Gomez and Flores assaulted and killed Matute. During the attack, Yovany-Gomez and Flores 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. 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. PLS members and associates later drove Yovany-Gomez to the Maryland/Virginia area so he could avoid being arrested and prosecuted in connection with the murder. Yovany-Gomez remained in the Maryland/Virginia area until his arrest in August 2017, adopting an alias to further avoid law enforcement detection.

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, Va., based on tips received from the public.

Flores was previously found guilty of the murder. In addition to the Matute murder, Yovany-Gomez agreed as part of the racketeering conspiracy that another conspirator would commit multiple acts of violence on behalf of MS-13. In addition to the prison term, Chesler sentenced Yovany-Gomez to five years of supervised release.