MS-13 member Israel Alberto Rivas Gomez, 28, received a life sentence in Fresno federal court on Wednesday for a 2017 kidnapping and murder in Mendota.
Rivas Gomez’s prison term was announced by U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert in a news release. He is a citizen of El Salvador who was living in Mendota at the time of his crimes.
“Excellent law enforcement work led to the arrest of 25 individuals associated with the MS-13 gang for criminal activity in California’s Central Valley,” said Talbert. “Rivas Gomez participated in the brutal murder of a 19-year-old man. The murder was preplanned, carefully orchestrated, driven by allegiance to MS-13, and deserving of a life sentence.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to dismantling criminal enterprises like MS-13 and to vindicating the rights of victims and seeking justice for their family members and loved ones.”
According to court documents, on Dec. 18, 2017, Rivas Gomez and his fellow MS-13 members kidnapped the 19-year-old victim in Mendota, drove him to a remote location about 30 minutes away, and used a knife and machete to murder him.
A jury convicted Rivas Gomez in September 2022 of kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering.
“While nothing can erase the pain that family members experience when their loved one is kidnapped and murdered in cold blood, this investigation, prosecution, and sentencing goes a long way in obtaining justice,” said Homeland Security Investigations San Francisco Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. “HSI San Francisco is proud of our agents and professional staff who worked together on this multi-year criminal investigation into this MS-13 clique in Mendota, which yielded dozens of arrests and prevented additional acts of violence.”
Mendota MS-13 Leader Sentenced in 2022
In February 2022, the leader of the Mendota MS-13 gang, Denis Barrera-Palma, 27, was sentenced to 10 years and one month in prison for assault with a deadly weapon in aid of racketeering and drug trafficking.