Metro

MS-13 leader gets 10-year federal prison sentence

The head of a local chapter, or clique, of the feared MS-13 gang received a 10-year prison sentence Thursday for various drug and gun offenses, as well as a sprawling RICO conspiracy that included assault, prosecutors said.

Santos Portillo Andrade, a 33-year-old Salvadoran national with a prior address in Revere, learned his fate during a hearing in US District Court in Boston.

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His lawyer, Bernard Grossberg, lashed out at President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions when contacted for comment Friday.

“One of the several reasons that [Portillo Andrade] entered guilty pleas is that Trump and Sessions repeated ‘fake news’ re: MS-13 [and] poisoned the defendant’s constitutional rights to obtain a fair trial. Their rantings about MS-13 while trials are pending are further attempts to eviscerate guaranteed constitutional rights.”

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Acting US Attorney William D. Weinreb’s office described Portillo Andrade as the leader of MS-13’s East Boston Loco Salvatrucha clique.

In June, he pleaded guilty to charges including RICO conspiracy involving an aggravated assault, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, and possession of a firearm to aid in drug trafficking.

“In June 2017, Portillo agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy, and admitted responsibility for an aggravated assault on an individual he believed was a rival gang member in Malden in December 2008,” Weinreb’s office said in a statement.

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Prosecutors said Portillo Andrade was one of 61 defendants indicted after a lengthy investigation into alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13. He’s the 19th suspect to be sentenced.

“According to court documents, MS-13 is a violent transnational criminal organization whose branches or ‘cliques’ operate throughout the United States, including Massachusetts,” the statement said. “MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence against rival gang members to gain promotions and maintain membership and discipline within the group. Specifically, MS-13 members are required to attack and murder rival gang members whenever possible.”

Grossberg had downplayed his client’s leadership role in the clique in a prior statement to the Globe in June, after the gangster signed a plea agreement to resolve his case.

“The clique was made up of older guys who were not involved in the violence that other cliques practiced,” Grossberg wrote in an e-mail. “Santos became a so-called leader by default as no one else wanted the position. . . . The plea agreement was a compromise and the best disposition that the government would accept.”

Portillo Andrade will be subject to deportation proceedings after he completes his bid.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.
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