District MS-13 member sentenced to life in prison

March 24, 2011

A District member of the MS-13 gang was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for crimes ranging from murder to racketeering.

William Cordova, 26, also known as “Centinella,” and two other men — recent immigrants from El Salvador — were convicted on numerous charges related to their violent conduct in MS-13 after a lengthy trial that ended in December.

Cordova was found guilty in the shooting death of Edwin Ventura, 18, and an assault on Nelson Maldonado in the 2900 block of Sherman Avenue NW in Columbia Heights the night of April 22, 2007. The shooting, authorities said, was the result of a gang-related feud.

Cordova was also found guilty of shooting Feliciana Flores-Esquina Flores twice in the head as she stood at a bus stop in the 3000 block of Georgia Avenue NW that June 1, and of shooting three men in Alexandria in 2006.

“The driving force behind Cordova’s criminal conduct was his membership in the MS-13 enterprise and his relentless effort to execute more violence in furtherance of the enterprise,” said court papers filed by assistant U.S. Attorneys Nihar R. Mohanty and Gilberto Guerrero Jr.

After a hearing in the District’s federal court, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon sentenced Cordova to life in prison plus 150 years.

MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, is considered by authorities to be one of the nation’s most violent street gangs and one with international reach. Cordova’s co-defendants, Jose Gutierrez, 22, and Melvin Sorto, 24, are scheduled to be sentenced by Leon next month.

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