MS-13 Member, Plainfield Murder Suspect Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

An MS-13 member previously named one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives was sentenced today to 300 months in prison for killing a Plainfield, New Jersey, man on behalf of the gang, and agreeing that a conspirator would commit multiple violent acts for the gang, officials 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 R. Chesler to an information charging him with one count of racketeering conspiracy, officials said.

According to officials, Judge Chesler imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

“This defendant committed a vicious murder and conspired with another MS-13 member to commit further acts of violence,” U.S. Attorney 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 blood-thirsty 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 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) transnational gang, with various gang-related offenses, officials reported.

According to officials, 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.

Officials said that Yovany-Gomez fled New Jersey after officers went to Yovany-Gomez’s residence to question him.

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, officials reported.

Officials reported that between 2014 and 2016, all 13 of Yovany-Gomez’s co-defendants charged in the September 2013 federal indictment were convicted, including eight MS-13 members who were convicted following a 16-week trial that ended in June 2016.

In May 2011, 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, officials stated.

On May 8, 2011, Yovany-Gomez and fellow MS-13 member Cruz Flores, aka “Bruja” traveled to Matute’s Plainfield apartment to carry out the murder, meeting Matute and another individual at the residence, according to officials.

After consuming alcohol and controlled substances with the other three individuals, 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, officials reported.

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, officials said.

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. According to officials, 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.

Officials said that Yovany-Gomez remained in the Maryland/Virginia area until his arrest in August 2017, adopting an alias to further avoid law enforcement detection.

Flores was found guilty of the murder during the trial described above.