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Law enforcement partnerships make significant impact on MS-13 gang murder investigation

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On March 6, 2016, officers from the Richmond Police Department responded to a call for service within the 1400 block of Armfield Road in the Town and Country Townhomes and Apartment complex in Richmond.

On scene, officers learned that three male victims were approached by multiple subjects demanding their belongings. The victims fled on foot in different directions while being pursued by the subjects.

Officers discovered two of the victims were caught, assaulted, and robbed by their assailants; the third victim, Clemente Jimenez-Lopez, was located deceased from a gunshot wound to the head.

Almost five years after the murder of Lopez and following a two-day jury trial in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond in March, MS-13 member Osmar Hernandez Santamaria was found guilty of one count of first degree murder, one count of use of a firearm in the commission of murder, three counts of attempted robbery, and one count of use of a firearm in the commission of attempted robbery.

Santamaria’s formal sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 24.

MS-13 member Francisco Ovidio Lemus-Castillo previously pled guilty on March 9 to one count of second degree murder and one count of attempted robbery. Castillo was sentenced on that date to 40 years in prison with 15 years suspended for the murder charge and 10 years in prison with all 10 years suspended for the attempted robbery charge, resulting in 25 years of actual incarceration.

These recent convictions are part of a multi-year investigative effort targeting the MS-13 gang in the Richmond area and comes off the heels of the October 2019 and January 2020 guilty pleas by MS-13 associates Arsenio Joshua Alers and Jose Rivas-Santiago.

Alers and Rivas-Santiago pleaded guilty to one count of 2nd degree murder and one count of attempted robbery, respectively.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Richmond Area Violent Enterprise Task Force, the City of Richmond Police Department’s Major Crimes Division, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Richmond office.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Brooke E. Pettit from the City of Richmond Commonwealth Attorney’s Office prosecuted these cases.

The FBI RAVE Task Force is an established team of federal, state, and local law enforcement partners and prosecutors dedicated to addressing gang and drug related violent criminal activity.

The RAVE Task Force identifies and targets gangs as criminal enterprises, investigating the enterprise’s activities and focusing resources to obtain successful prosecutions.

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