Attorney General Eric Holder has intervened in a federal conspiracy and murder trial to order prosecutors not to seek the death penalty for three El Salvadoran men who are illegal aliens.
The three robbed and shot Claros Luna on July 29, 2009, in Alexandria, Va., according to police. The crime occurred just a few miles from the Justice Department as Luna transported a prostitute from Maryland to Virginia, CNSNews reported.
The suspects, Eris Arguera, Alcides Umana, and Adolfo Amaya Portillo, are admitted members of the MS-13 gang – a large, organized gang with roots throughout Mexico and Latin America. Many federal officials consider it the most deadly trafficking organization in the region.
The three were indicted on Nov. 24 on federal racketeering and murder charges. It typically initiates members — young middle and high school students — by ordering them to target and kill innocent bystanders.
A Justice Department spokeswoman told CNSNews.com that the department would not comment on Holder’s decision not to seek the death penalty in the case.
CNSNews reported that, in a letter dated Feb. 3, 2010, Holder “authorized and directed” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neal McBride “not to seek the death penalty against Alcides Umana, Adolfo Portillo, and Eris Ramon Arguera.”
McBride filed a corresponding document – Government’s Notice of Intent Not to Seek the Death Penalty – on Feb. 16.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia, told CNSNews.com that Holder, as U.S. attorney general, makes death penalty decisions in federal cases. “The decision to pursue or not pursue the death penalty in a death-eligible case resides with the attorney general, not the U.S. attorney,” Carr said.
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